Characters / Parks and Recreation

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Main Characters

    Leslie Knope 

Leslie Barbara Knope (Amy Poehler)
"It is my dream to build a park that I one day visit with my White House staff on my birthday. And they say, 'President Knope, this park is awesome. Now we understand why you're the first female president of the United States.'"

Leslie is the deputy director of the Parks and Recreation Department in Pawnee, Indiana. An Inverted Trope of the Obstructive Bureaucrat, Leslie is a cheerful bureaucrat full of can-do spirit. This makes her The Pollyanna on a show where almost everyone else is cynical and jaded to one degree or another. She is also a Determinator.

  • The Ace: When it comes to being a civil servant, Leslie is virtually unmatched. Her hyper-competence at organizing, leading and working on large scale and complicated projects on extremely short notice is more or less the only thing that allows anything to be accomplished at all in Pawnee. At one point Leslie has to take time off and the entire rest of the department is unable to pick up her slack. Outside of her profession, while much less flawless, she is still generally a smart, charismatic and capable person.
  • Adorkable: In spades! She fangirls over prominent female politicians as well as Joe Biden, has binders for her types of binders, and is obsessed with waffles, news, work, and caring for her friends.
  • Afraid of Needles: To the point of making a Precision F-Strike against Ann.
  • All-Loving Hero: Edging closer to this trope as her Determinator qualities make her more and more effective.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Averted! Leslie is extremely ambitious (just read the above quotation), but she is also very moral. In some episodes, she is presented with an immoral way to achieve one of her goals and considers using it, but ultimately she ends up feeling guilty and doesn't go through with it.
  • Animal Motifs: It's never pointed out, but Leslie has a number of owl-themed knick-knacks around her office.
  • Badass Bureaucrat: Not immediately obvious, but her ability to consistently go up against impossible odds and succeed almost every time is jaw dropping. The primary reason Ron respects her despite their conflicting worldviews is her absolute refusal to compromise her ideals regardless of how much adversity she faces.
  • Bad Liar: Honest to a fault, Leslie's rare attempts at subterfuge invariably fall flat. In many cases, she ends up ratting herself out.
  • Beleaguered Bureaucrat:
    • This becomes especially apparent in "Christmas Scandal", where it's shown that her duties are so numerous that the combined efforts of all six of her coworkers can't get the job done.
    • Her overextension is given attention again in "Sweet Sixteen", where Ron states that she's been pulling 100 hours a week trying to give equal attention to her job and her city council campaign. Throughout the episode she keeps making minor blunders due to neglecting something from either side of her professional life. At the end of the episode she decides to reduce her time at her day job to ten hours per week.
  • Berserk Button: Do not feed J.J.'s waffles to your dog around Leslie.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Despite her overall positive and cheerful demeanor, she is not a pushover and she can get extremely angry when people push her too far. When this happens it usually falls upon Ron or Ann to calm her down.
    Ron: Leslie, what do we do when we get this angry?
    Leslie: [deep sigh] We count backward from a thousand by sevens and think of warm brownies.
  • Big Eater: When it comes to waffles, whipped cream, sugar, or all of the above, Leslie's essentially a bottomless pit.
  • Big Good: It takes her a few seasons to grow into it, but towards the end of the series even the more cynical of her friends and coworkers tend to regard Leslie as a powerful force for positive change in the world.
  • Big, Stupid Doodoo-Head: She'll resort to childish insults like this when she's really frustrated.
    • She subverts it rather nicely in "Meet 'n' Greet":
      Leslie: I don't like to throw around the word "butthead", because it loses its impact when you say "butthead" too much. But I can say without hesitation that Tom is being a real dick.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: She's very good at her job, and probably should have Ron's. On the other hand, she is also an extremely eccentric Woman Child.
  • Catch-Phrase:
    Leslie: It's every girl's dream to [something incredibly wonky, obscure and/or over-specific]!
    Leslie: Ann, you [insert strangely condescending comment that compliments her beauty but points out her naïveté]!
  • Characterization Marches On: It can mostly be chalked up to Early Installment Weirdness, but first season Leslie was something of a Pointy-Haired Boss in the vein of Michael Scott. In Season 2, she became much less obnoxious, and more of a hyper-competent, upbeat Pollyanna.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander
  • Determinator: Best exemplified by her masterful oration of her speech intended to attract sponsors to Harvest Festival. All while she was near delirious with the flu, and quickly reverted to sickness-induced delirium during a short Q&A session.
    • This is Leslie's great weakness as well as her strength. In many episodes the conflict can be summarized as 'Leslie's friends have to convince her that she can't change a situation she considers unacceptable.' Of course, she is so hypercompetent that she frequently finds ways to improve the situation anyway.
      • Summarized nicely in "The Smallest Park' when Ann interrupts Leslie's complaints about how unfair it is to call her a steamroller:
        Ann: You're a steamroller! You're a massive, enormous, runaway steamroller with no brakes and a cement brick on the gas pedal!
  • Distaff Counterpart: Back in the first season, critics tended to dismiss Leslie as 'Michael Scott in a skirt', but it's generally agreed that she became more her own character after the series Grew the Beard, as unlike Michael Scott, she is not only good at her job, but totally deserved to have been promoted into it.
  • Does Not Like Spam: Hates salad with a passion. Or other disgusting things.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Starts out the show as incompetent. In the second season she becomes a hyper-competent determinator Pollyanna.
  • Emotional Regression: Leslie becomes proportionately more irrational the more estranged she is from her emotional anchors, Ann and Ron. Nowhere is this more apparent than when Ann moves away in season six, and Leslie backslides almost to season one Leslie before snapping out of it.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change:
    • Wears a small, very tight French braid in her hair curving around the top of her head in "Jerry's Painting", apparently because she takes very well to being compared to a Greek goddess.
    • She gains another new hairstyle later on to emphasize the season 6 finale/season 7 Time Skip, but she quickly reverts to her original hairdo a few episodes into season 7.
  • Fangirl:
    • When it comes to Harry Potter. She made her best friend Ann watch all eight movies even though Ann doesn't like Harry Potter.
    • She's also a huge fangirl for Joe Biden and most prominent American women in politics, to the point of covering the walls of her office with their pictures. She's also a type of geek rarely portrayed in the media, the government-policy wonk.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Choleric
  • Glurge Addict: Mildly. She really likes cute things, but not to an annoying degree.
    Leslie: Scientifically, hummingbirds are the world's cutest animals. I mean, they're so small, they have tiny beaks and they only eat sugar water. I mean, what beats that? Come on. Baby monkeys in diapers? Yeah... they do. Baby monkeys in diapers are the cutest.
  • Genki Girl
  • Go-Getter Girl: Has the ambitious, driven personality down pat.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Despite her very ambitious nature, Leslie is extremely nice and many of her goals are motivated by caring for her friends and the citizens of Pawnee.
  • Happily Married: To Ben as of mid-Season 5.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Ann.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: A rare example of the lead character fitting this trope. This suits her boss just fine.
  • The Idealist: She rarely considers consequences and realistic probability before jumping into action.
  • Immigrant Patriotism: During her campaign, Leslie is stunned to learn that she was actually born in Eagleton, not Pawnee, partly because she hates Eagleton and partly because most of the voters hate Eagleton. As she thinks about it further, though, she realizes that it's the choice to continue living in and trying to improve Pawnee that really matters, and manages to communicate that to the voters. (Also, you know, the reason she was born in Eagleton was that although her parents lived in Pawnee, Pawnee's hospital was overrun with raccoons at the time, and Eagleton's hospital was the only one nearby that was in a reasonably good state.)
  • Innocently Insensitive: Many times, she is so passionate about projects and helping her friends that she ignores other people's feelings or desires such as when she plans out April's entire parks career path even though the latter has decided she wants to try something else.
  • Jerkass Ball: Related to her Immigrant Patriotism above, she tends to act like a jerk when it comes to dealing with Eagleton, even if the Eagletonians she's dealing with are actually nice people like Wreston St. James the park architect.
  • The Knights Who Say "Squee!": To Michelle Obama, among others.
  • Meaningful Name: Subverted. "Knope" is the perfect name for an Obstructive Bureaucrat... except that Leslie is as far from an Obstructive Bureaucrat as you can get.
  • Nice Girl: Despite her faults, Leslie is overall a very kindhearted person who constantly does nice things for her friends and goes out of her way to help others. Ron puts it best when he says, "Leslie has a lot of qualities I find horrifying, but the worst one by far is how thoughtful she can be." This very trope is also one of the reasons why she is so successful and accomplishes so much. Time and again, it is shown that everyone who knows her is willing to do anything to help her out, because she is always so kind. The Chief of Police will happily agree to assign his officers to work extra shifts for the Harvest Festival (describing Leslie as someone who uses favors to help others), airport baggage handlers will cheerfully destroy a bag containing embarrassing footage of Leslie being interviewed while drunk, businesses will stay open late or open early or even open on days when they're supposed to be closed, Ron will commit assault and battery without a second thought on anyone who insults her, Tom will stay up all night making a genuinely touching and heartfelt campaign film for her, etc. Hell, even Ken Hotate, who usually just sees dollar signs when he looks at a white person, will always have Leslie's back, although he can't resist some good-natured teasing of her while he's at it. The great thing is, most of the time these things are done without Leslie asking, people just do it because they care about her.
  • Number Two: Officially, she is this to Ron, but she actually does all the work.
  • Odd Friendship: She's probably Ron's closest friend, despite being his total opposite.
  • Oblivious to Love: Initially, regarding Ben's interest in her.
  • Official Couple: With Ben in Season 3.
  • The Paragon: Leslie lives to help other people, and is incredibly kind and caring. Her influence also encourages the other characters to be better — Ron becomes more willing to let people into his life, April becomes more driven, Tom becomes more mature, Ben loosens up a bit, and Ann learns to stand up for herself. Hell, she's so nice that some people in Pawnee will bend or outright break the rules to help her out and do the right thing.
  • Platonic Life Partners: With Ron. She knows more about Ron than anyone, at least pre-Diane.
  • Plucky Girl: The absolute poster girl for the trope. She expects the best and always goes the extra mile.
  • The Pollyanna: Relentlessly positive, sunny, and full of can-do spirit.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: She appears to be under the impression that Game of Thrones is a Space Opera.
  • Pungeon Master: Most definitely this. Notable examples include her top soil brochure "Mulch Ado About Nothing" and the rules she instated at the Farmer's Market (like "Peas be kind to others" and "In case of fire, romaine calm"). In her words, she hates vegetables but is really good at vegetable puns.
  • Real Women Never Wear Dresses: Leslie is a competent golfer and hunter, and she almost always dresses in a masculine manner, but considering that appearing to be 'too feminine' is a concern for women in the real world for business and politics, this is very much a Justified Trope.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Energetic girl to Ben's savvy guy.
  • Shipper on Deck:
    • She Zigzagged this when she found out Andy and April were going to get married, stating that while she wanted them to be together forever, she worried that them getting married after being together for such a short amount of time was a mistake and tried to stop the wedding. It failed, but Andy and April stayed together for the rest of the series and beyond.
    • In the finale when she sees her daughter Sonia and Ann's son Oliver getting close, she flashes Sonia a double "thumbs up".
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: She ends up married to the kind and intelligent Ben.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Averted: She's not full of herself, but she's convinced that her municipal government job is much more important than it really is. She also has no doubt that she will one day be president of the United States. In a flash-forward to 2048, she and Ben are depicted as having a Secret Service detail, implying that she apparently did indeed become President (although the episode does leave open the possibility it was Ben, it's more likely to be her). She definitely became Governor of Indiana—and apparently the first female one too (she's apparently elected in 2020—IN elects in the same year as the President—and the only somewhat likely circumstance in which Indiana's governor is a woman before then is if the winner of the 2016 race dies, resigns, or is removed before 2020 (both major parties nominated women for Lieutenant Governor).
  • Sweet Tooth: She puts sugar on pasta.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: Time after time, Leslie will encounter situations where the problem at hand could be easily solved if she just broke the laws that she so values.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: She piles whipped cream onto everything (during "Pie-mary", Ben specifically gets her two canisters of whipped cream: one to put on the pies, one to spray directly into her mouth). She also loves Belgian waffles, specifically the ones from JJ's Diner.
  • Weirdness Magnet: Somewhat. She's seldom had a 'normal' date — something extremely outlandish happens, or the date himself is outlandish. Incidents include a blazing dress, an Ambien overdose, a date sticking his hand in her mouth as she slept, and a free MRI.note  As far as we've seen, Dave and Ben are the only men she's dated without some kind of off-putting quirk or glaring character flaw.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Happens whenever she tries to do an accent or an imitation.
  • White Guilt: Shows occasional signs of this, especially when dealing with Ken Hotate, the local Native American leader, who likes to invoke Everything Is Racist cheerfully to provoke this reaction and get his way. She largely outgrows it in later interactions with him.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Much to Ron's endless annoyance, and failed attempts to beat it out of her.
  • Woman Child: Leslie is cheerful, hyperactive, and a little naïve. Not to mention her fondness for candy and dislike of vegetables (though she did happily eat the cucumber rose garnish Chris made because it was cute). She is competent, however — indeed, very competent.
    Ann (in a deleted scene): Leslie is incredible. She has the energy of a ten year-old. And the same taste in snacks.
  • Workaholic: At one point Ron has to lock her in a room so she can actually sleep because she's working herself so hard. The next morning she excitedly says that she slept seven hours, which is about twice as long as she normally does. Hell, in "Citizen Knope" she attempts to steal some work from the office to do at home during her paid suspension.

    Ann Perkins 

Ann Meredith Perkins (Rashida Jones)
"The Parks Department has done so much for me that if I can help them out in any way, I will. Oh, God. Maybe I should just give them all free flu shots."

Leslie's Heterosexual Life Partner. They first meet in the pilot episode, when Ann attended a town hall meeting to bring an abandoned construction pit to the government's attention. For the first three seasons, Ann was a nurse at the local hospital, making it somewhat baffling that she seemed to spend so much time with the other characters at City Hall. Eventually, she was given a part-time job at City Hall to solve this problem. She is generally a Straight Woman.

  • Ambiguously Brown: Obviously applies to any character played by Rashida Jones, who is black and Jewish.
    Leslie: "I've said this to you before and I know it makes you uncomfortable, but you're thoughtful and you're brilliant. And your ambiguous ethnic blend perfectly represents the dream of the American melting pot."
  • Back for the Finale
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Ann's very nice, but she has her limits. Best exemplified in a season two episode when April's in the hospital, and is, well... April. Ann manages to be sweet and polite the whole time, until...
    Ann: (looking at her watch) Three... two... one. Aaaand my shift's over. (deep breath) WHAT THE [BLEEP] IS YOUR PROBLEM?!
  • Big Eater: She apparently once consumed an entire cheesecake at Leslie's request, commenting only that it was delicious and that she would have eaten ten if asked.
  • The Bore: Her lack of any interesting hobbies or quirks, especially in comparison to Leslie, is frequently played for laughs, to the point of becoming a quirk in and of itself.
  • Cannot Tell a Joke: She notably fails when she attempts to be funny, often saying an awkward joke and then immediately regretting it and kicking herself under her breath.
    Leslie: Oh Ann, you're too beautiful to be funny. It's not your fault. You've never had to compensate for anything.
  • Deadpan Snarker: From time to time.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Colors a few locks of her hair bright red in an attempt to impress Chris in "Camping".
  • Extreme Doormat: Definitely has elements of this. She's very passive compared to Leslie and is always pulled into Leslie's plans. Also, due to the Florence Nightingale Effect and Weakness Turns Her On, she's very inclined to allow boyfriends to take advantage of her.
  • Five Temperament Ensemble: Phlegmatic
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Their shared ambition to fill the lot 48 pit quickly turns Leslie and her into the best of friends.
  • Florence Nightingale Effect: Ann is clearly shown to be attracted to vulnerable and sickly men. She waited on Andy hand and foot when his legs broke, and tries to coddle and protect him like a child, and kisses him when he ends up in the hospital again. She was also incredibly threatened and uncomfortable by Chris being almost completely perfect, until he got a nasty case of the flu, which made her ecstatic.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Leslie.
  • Hospital Hottie: Not that she actually spends much time working there (at least on-screen).
  • Mistaken for Gay: As a Running Gag, she and Leslie are repeatedly mistaken for a lesbian couple.
  • Nice Girl: She's generally a friendly, amiable sort of person who wants to help people and sincerely loves her friends.
  • Official Couple: After going through a Relationship Revolving Door, she and Chris become this in Season 6.
  • One-Hour Work Week: Her nursing job. The show is a Work Com, it's just not dedicated to her work. Occasionally we see her at her work, usually whenever a main character ends up in the hospital. Ann getting a part-time job at the city's health department as of the end of Season 3 is most likely an attempt to avert this trope.
    • Of course since this is a Mockumentary, we can assume it is all done off-screen and has been edited out.
  • Only Sane Woman: She is the only member of the cast lacking any clear quirk that would realistically get them fired from their profession.
  • Put on a Bus: In mid-Season 6, when she and Chris move to Michigan to raise their family.
  • Really Gets Around: She finally learns how to put her looks to good use in season three, and is shown with at least one new paramour every episode of that season.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The calm, practical blue to Leslie's energetic, eccentric red.
  • Shipper on Deck: Ann really, really wants Leslie and Ben to get together (and even sneaks an Al Green song onto their road trip mix, which is designed to be as un-sexy as possible).
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: A mild case. Being so beautiful, she's never been dumped before. When Chris breaks up with her, his positive personality and strange wording plus her inexperience make her not realize it until a week later and she is blindsided by it. As Leslie put it in an earlier episode:
    Leslie: Ann, I always forget you're so pretty you're not used to rejection!
  • Straight Woman
  • True Love Is Boring: While it's debatable just how much their relationship can be called "true love", this trope describes why she broke up with Mark. Sure the relationship is a healthy and stable one, but Ann also admits that it's kind of bland and her previous relationship with Andy, while terribly unhealthy, at least was interesting. Averted with the guy she actually ends up with, Chris. After a bumpy start, the two find that their differences both balance each other and help keep the relationship interesting, but the two are also incredibly supportive of one another, thus allowing the relationship to actually work.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Maybe "best buds" is a bit of a stretch, but eventually, she and April become friends (though April won't admit it), though they still snark at each other constantly.
  • Weakness Turns Her On: As indicated by her finding Chris more attractive when she was caring for him than when he was a perfect human specimen. This also explains her relationship with Andy and why it didn't work out with Mark. But even she has her limits, as exemplified with Tom.
  • What Does She See in Him?: Ann goes through as many lame, unattractive boyfriends as attractive ones in season three. Leslie has to call her out on it in "The Fight" when her current guy happens to be The Douche.
    • This was the crux of her relationship with Andy in Season 1, who at that point was such a lazy Jerkass that he intentionally delayed getting his cast removed for two weeks just to have her keep waiting on him.

    Tom Haverford 

Thomas Montgomery Haverford né Darwish Sabir Ismael Gani (Aziz Ansari)
"I had to call in a few favors, but if you don't call in favors to look at women in bikinis and assign them numerical grades, what the hell do you call in favors for?"

Tom is Leslie's immediate subordinate, in charge of scheduling parks activities and an aspiring media mogul. Networking, hot women, expensive suits, hot women, slacking off, and hot women are just a few of his favorite things. As of the end of Season 6, he runs an Italian restaurant, Tom's Bistro.

  • Always Second Best: He has a sort of inferiority complex for Ron, which came to a boiling point in "Go Big or Go Home".
  • Beta Couple: With his former ex, Lucy, in season 7. While it's not confirmed, it's implied they get married in the future after he proposed the episode before.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: After the Entertainment 720 arc, he evolves into this. He's still immature, superficial and goofy, but when it comes to marketing, style, PR, and advertising techniques, he knows what he's talking about.
  • Butt-Monkey: Defaults into this after Jerry's retirement, before revealing to Ron that he was the Jerry at his old job before moving to Pawnee and reinventing himself.
  • Camp Straight: Despite his Handsome Lech personality, he invests in a gay bar, wears pink shirts, and drinks stereotypical 'girly' drinks. Leslie lampshades this in "Pawnee Zoo":
    Leslie: Okay, so I know you're not gay.
    Tom: No, I'm not.
    Leslie: But you're very effeminate.
    Tom: What?
    Leslie: Well, you're wearing a shirt with a coiled snake on it.
  • Can't Hold His Liquor
    Detlef Schrempf: He had two beers. Light beers.
    • Oddly, in what may be an Out-of-Character Moment, he isn't shown to be terribly intoxicated by his invention Snakejuice, which has terrible aftereffects for the rest of the cast (especially Ron). Though he still ends up drunk.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Sometimes to the point of real pathos.
  • Character Development: Over the seasons, he becomes more mature, confident, and self-reliant.
  • Characterization Marches On: Season 1 Tom is far more straitlaced, with only a few of the quirks he'd have later on, with most of the humor around him being focused on his South Asian heritage and being Leslie's Number Two. Season 2 added in the love of style, ramped up the perverted aspects and gave him far more screen time with other characters.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Is actually the one to tell Ben they should make sure a drunken Joan Callamezzo gets safely home from lunch with them.
  • Citizenship Marriage: His first wife Wendy. Despite him being brown-skinned and her being white, she was the one who needed the green card. She's Canadian.
  • The Dandy: He has a full-sized room for a closet and explicitly states that he wears pink for the sake of "peacocking".
  • Deadpan Snarker: With a much greater emphasis on 'snarker'; there is little 'deadpan' about Tom.
  • Easily Forgiven: Especially in earlier seasons, no matter what Tom would do, he would always get off with a slap on the wrist at most. The worst offender would have to be what he does in "Hunting Trip." Unlike his other antics, which are mostly harmless, if hurtful, here, Tom is extremely reckless with loaded firearms: he goes on a hunting trip without a license, accidentally shoots Ron in the back of the head because he didn't bother checking his field of fire, and then, in an attempt distract everyone from the question of who shot Ron, opens fire on someone else and almost kills them. Then he lets Leslie take the fall for him. He gets off with Ron calling him a moron a couple of times when he could have killed someone, and should have gotten a hefty fine at least, and probably jail time.
  • Five Temperament Ensemble: Sanguine
  • Hypocrite: In "Jerry's Retirement," Tom spins a sympathetic story about how before he moved to the Parks and Rec. department, he was the Jerry of his old office, which is why he reinvented himself. The only problem is, instead of making him more sympathetic, it only makes his treatment of Jerry, which is by far the cruelest, that much more horrible because he should know how it feels to be on the receiving end.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Despite his obsession with being trendy and stylish, he is repeatedly shown to be woefully out of touch with what is actually trendy and stylish.
  • Informed Attribute: His good-heartedness. He has shown lots of selfish and unethical behavior throughout the series, with very little improvement, and his efforts to fix the damage always seem a bit self-serving. He does get better when his Character Development kicks in.
  • It's All About Me: Has a big, big problem with this. It's on full display in "Meet 'N' Greet", where he turns an event for Leslie to get to know local business owners into an investment pitch for his company Entertainment 720. While he did it because E720 was bankrupt and he was desperate for funds, it also wasn't particularly out of character.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: As Leslie puts it, "Tom Haverford is a selfish, sleazy, self-promoting, good-hearted, secretly kind and wonderful tiny, little person."
  • Lovable Coward: He's more of a wimp than a coward (Ron once equated hurting Tom with hurting a defenseless child), but the lovable part holds true both ways.
  • Manchild: Seems to have the mentality of a fifteen-year-old boy.
  • Mock Millionaire: Comes up often but particularly emphasized during the Entertainment 720 arc, when he and Jean-Ralphio carelessly spent money on buying excessive props and hiring attractive women as surplus employees while not doing any actual work or generating revenue for their company.
  • The Nicknamer
  • Odd Friendship: Andy and Ben are both about as far from him personality-wise as possible, each for very different reasons, but he hangs out with both of them a lot. A later episode even shows that he considers them more of his true friends than the almost identical Jean-Ralphio.
  • Pet the Dog: After Leslie tears up the Venezuelans' check in "Sister City", Tom secretly takes all the tips he earned making himself the Venezuelans' errand boy and donates it all toward the park fund.
  • Pretty Fly for an Indian Guy: At one point, Tom mentions having carefully cultivating a Jay-Z vibe and once dressed up as the rapper T-Pain for Halloween. He's also fond of using the slang term "boo" to refer to a significant other.
  • Popularity Polynomial: In-Universe: Finds himself the victim of this compared to Ben in the episode "Prom". His taste in music is out of touch with high school students, while Ben just played classic rock.
  • Schemer: He's always involved in some plan or invention to get fabulously wealthy, but none of them works, until the bistro, which lasts for several years until it goes under. Then he writes a massively successful self help book by drawing on his past experiences.
  • Self-Deprecation: Will not deny that he rides others' coattails.
    Tom: Behind every successful man is me: smiling and taking partial credit.
  • Serious Business: You will never acquire his thinking PJs. Or his YouTube blazer. Non-negotiable.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Full force.
  • This Is My Name on Foreign: His birth name is Darwish Sabir Ismael Gani, but he changed it since he thought "brown people with funny-sounding Muslim names" didn't have a chance in politics. He admits this reason is Hilarious in Hindsight after Barack Obama.
  • Took a Level in Badass/Took a Level in Kindness: After his failure with Entertainment 720, he successfully manages to run a small suit-rental business before being bought out by a competitor. He now works in City Government to help bring outside businesses to Pawnee, impressing Ron and Leslie. He's also noticeably less selfish.

    Ron Swanson 

Ronald Ulysses Swanson (Nick Offerman)
"My idea of a perfect government is one guy who sits in a small room at a desk, and the only thing he's allowed to decide is who to nuke. The man is chosen based on some kind of IQ test, and maybe also a physical tournament, like a decathlon. And women are brought to him, maybe... when he desires them."

Leslie's manly, mustachioed, unapologetic libertarian boss who, engaged in a continuous attempt to sabotage the Pawnee government, secretly (or not-so-secretly) tries to stop anything from getting done. Leslie does his job for him, allowing him to devote his time to being a Memetic Badass.

  • Acquired Poison Immunity: His family have their own brand of moonshine that can only be legally used to strip varnish off speedboats. This is the only plausible reason why he can knock back so much alcohol yet never get hung over. (Tom's Snakejuice got him drunk, but he suffered no ill effects the morning after.)
  • Acrofatic: He's a little stockier in build, but is still rather agile and athletic.
  • Adorkable: Surprisingly enough, he can slip pretty hard into this when he's enthusiastic about something.
    • Best exemplified when he becomes extremely giddy at the prospect of meeting renowned woodworkers, or solving scavenger hunt puzzles.
  • Affluent Ascetic: Ron owns so much gold that the five percent he plans to leave to each of his kids is considered a lot of money. His spending habits are quite modest, and he builds as many of his possessions as he can.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Or rather: Feminists want Real Men - when handsome, cheerful, politically correct, environmentally aware Chris Traeger tries to hit on Andy's vegetarian Women's Studies professor, she rejects him in favor of gruff, mustachio'd, unapologetically carnivorous Ron.
  • Amazon Chaser: Ron often expresses his admiration for strong women, and he's got the dating history to back it up. This trait is so pronounced that it's been a problem for him in the past, leading him to acquire no less than two abusive ex-wives who both took great glee in completely dominating every facet of his life and personality. In the end, he finds lasting happiness with the tough and no-nonsense but still fundamentally good-hearted Diane.
    • Who is played by Lucy Lawless, probably best known for playing the Amazon Xena. And who can put the fear of God into Tammy 2 with a simple Death Glare.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: He struggles with social interaction and emotional expression, dislikes physical contact, has stated his difficulty with and distaste for jokes, and is quietly hostile towards most changes in his life.
    • At least some of this could be from taking masculine tropes like Real Men Hate Affection and Men Are Tough Up to Eleven. After marrying Diane in Season 6 and becoming stepfather to her daughters (and father to his own son John), he admits to her that being a husband and father has helped him to be better at having fun and showing affection.
  • Annoying Laugh: Despite his unabashed masculinity, he titters like a schoolgirl on the few occasions where he does laugh.
  • Authority in Name Only: While he is still well-respected by his subordinates and will occasionally exert his absolute authority when he strongly disagrees with something, for all intents and purposes, Leslie is the real head of the Parks Department, with Ron simply kicking back and leaving everything to her most of the time.
  • Badass Baritone: He has the deepest voice of everyone in the cast, and one of the central aspects of his character is how incredibly badass he is. To put into perspective just how insane he is, every onscreen fight he's been involved in has ended in a single punch.
  • Badass Mustache: He's incredibly badass, and his impressive mustache shows it.
  • Beta Couple: With Diane as of Season 5.
  • Big Eater: Especially in regards to red meat and breakfast meals; all other foodstuffs are treated with suspicion, or outright derision. The only thing that interests him in a strip club is the breakfast buffet. He says that if he does not have at least three breakfast meals a day, he acts like a tired whiny child. He has an enormous picture of bacon and eggs framed in his office.
    Ron: Just give me all the bacon and eggs you have... Wait, wait. I worry what you just heard was, "Give me a lot of bacon and eggs." What I said was, "Give me all the bacon and eggs you have." Do you understand?
    • He can eat a party platter meant to feed 12 people in four minutes.
    • He also holds a number of records around Pawnee for eating large amounts of food very quickly.
      Ron: Why is everyone else so bad at eating?
    • He tends to shy away from "ethnic food", but greatly enjoyed eating from a burrito place when Andy mentions the "Meat Tornado", which has apparently killed someone in the past. Ron thought of it as "revolutionary".
  • Birthday Hater: He hates birthdays so much that he has gone to great lengths to keep anyone from finding out his own, including having it redacted from all government documents. Needless to say, he is not pleased when Leslie discovers his.
    Ron: I don't like loud noises. And people making a fuss. And I especially don't like people celebrating because they know a piece of private information about me. Plus the whole thing is a scam — birthdays were invented by Hallmark to sell cards.
  • Breakout Character: He's by far the most popular character among fans, and some TV critics have called him the best sitcom character since Cosmo Kramer.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: As shown by his excellent handling of Very Good Construction, Ron is an extremely competent entrepreneur and manager, and it was only his hatred of government that kept him from doing anything in the Parks Department.
  • Catch-Phrase: "Bully" and "Please and thank you".
  • Characterization Marches On: We get very little of Ron's personality in season 1, but early Ron Swanson doesn't share Season 2-onwards Ron's Rated M for Manly aspects or begrudging respect for Leslie. Even his costume-based characterization is absent—season 1 Ron wears a suit instead of rugby shirts and flannels and keeps his hair in a more office-friendly coif (him exclusively wearing his season 2 haircut for years is explicitly noted in a later season).
  • Comically Missing the Point: The reason his favorite book is Moby-Dick?
    Ron: No frou-frou symbolism. Just a good, simple tale about a man who hates an animal.
  • The Comically Serious: He rarely cracks actual jokes, as most of the humor that comes from Ron stems from the situations he's put in and the interactions he has with the other characters.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Keeps a survival backpack hidden in a ventilation grate down the hall. Also keeps a small supply of ground chuck in his desk drawer, and a large packet of bacon above the ceiling tiles of his office.
    • Taken Up to Eleven when Ron retrieves the bag after his first ex-wife shows up. It's labeled, indicating that Ron prepared it specifically to escape from Tammy One.
    • All that gold he has buried? Most of it is fake gold just in case someone manages to figure out where they're hidden.
    • A deleted scene from "Ron and Leslie" reveals he had a secret stash of whiskey in the wall of his original office that he made on the first day he'd gotten the job just in case he ever got trapped there somehow.
    • Another deleted scene reveals that he had bacon caches in 37 other places in the office, including inside the photocopier and underneath Tom, because of an anticipated worldwide bacon shortage, or as Ron describes it, "total [bleep] global [bleep]."
  • Deadpan Snarker: He is often sarcastic toward his coworkers and people in general, it is actually one of the many things he has in common with April.
  • Drink Order: Scotch. Specifically Lagavulin 16-year, neat.
  • The Engineer: Builds lots of things himself. Including a crib that he tested by hitting with his car. The grill is loose, the chrome molding is bent, and the right headlight is missing as a result.
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: Inverted. While he doesn't hate them, after his relationship with Tammy One, he only dates dark-haired women because she ruined blondes for him.
  • Flanderization: His Rated M for Manly traits ramp up as the series continues as the writers begin to embrace his Memetic Badass status. He also goes from someone who greatly values his privacy to being almost completely disconnected from human society.
  • Foil: His disdain for government work and cynical view of social and political systems directly clashes with Leslie's more ambitious and naively idealistic endeavors.
  • Five Temperament Ensemble: Melancholic
  • Grumpy Bear: A generally cantankerous and serious guy among a cast of lovably quirky goofballs. Of course, he manages to be so cantankerous and serious that it ends up making him as lovable and quirky as everyone else.
  • Happily Married: To Diane as of the beginning of Season 6.
  • Hates Being Touched: As shown by his tendency to awkwardly just stand there whenever someone (usually Andy) hugs him. Ron really dislikes hugs.
  • Hates Small Talk: You're at best going to get a curt dismissal and at worst a Death Glare if you attempt to instigate pointless small talk with him.
  • Healing Factor: Specifically, his hair. No matter what happens to Ron's hair, it always grows back by the next couple of episodes, especially his mustache. At one point, he accidentally burnt his facial hair and eyebrows off and then ran off to hide in the woods when finding out his first ex-wife was coming, and three weeks later when Leslie comes looking for him he's sprouted a massive mountain-man beard that would take a lesser mortal years to grow.
  • Henpecked Husband: Around Tammy One.
  • Hidden Depths: Ron moonlights as jazz saxophonist "Duke Silver" and plays in clubs outside Pawnee. He's really good in general with woodwind instruments and is very good at crafting flutes and recorders (which he then sells to a loony doomsday cult because they always play them at their end-of-the-world vigils).
    • In addition, Ron is shown to absolutely LOVE solving scavenger hunt puzzles, and becomes uncharacteristically giddy at the prospect of completing them.
    • Despite his obsession with being as stereotypically masculine as humanly possible, he's also a staunch feminist.note 
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • "When I buried gold in my backyard, I promised myself I would not be miserly with it."
    • Ron's a libertarian who believes in freedom from undue influence and that everyone should have the ability to run their lives however they want. However, he also possesses a very forceful, imposing personality which can frequently lead him towards trying to dominate everyone around him and get them to run their lives the way he thinks they should be run, inadvertently or otherwise.
  • Iconic Outfit: Red shirt and black pants after he's had sex. According to Tom, the same as Tiger Woods wears when he feels invincible.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He may act like he hates all his coworkers, but he's shown on more than one occasion that if any of them is seriously hurting or in trouble, he'll be there for them.
    • Of course there are times when he's almost an unabashed Jerkass. Case in point, in "Ms. Knope Goes to Washington" Ron is supposed to plan and host a family barbecue. First he plans to slaughter a live pig, then being told he can't do that, he goes to a store where the only food he buys is beer and meat. The delay caused by his live pig silliness means that he starts cooking in late morning rather than at dawn, so that by the time it's lunchtime and everyone's starving, the food is nowhere near ready; he throws away Chris' vegetarian patties because he personally doesn't like them; and when people complain that he didn't even bring plates, he throws a massive huff and leaves.
  • Kavorka Man: Not considered especially attractive, but still manages to attract many women with his gruff personality.
    • When he drops by the local gay bar to find one of the clues Leslie left for Ben's gift, many of the patrons are clearly checking him out. Ron definitely does have the looks of a Bear.
  • Likes Older Women: Both of his ex-wives are distinctly older than him (Tammy "Two" is played by Nick Offerman's real wife, who is twelve years his senior)
  • Like Parent, Like Spouse: Has two ex-wives and a mother named Tammy.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Hanging around Tammy One turns him into a complete wuss. Tammy Two turns him into a raging sex fiend.
  • Made of Iron: In "Hunting Trip", he takes a shotgun blast to the back of the head, and spends the rest of the episode more angry than debilitated. He also survived getting hit by a school bus when he was seven years old.
  • Manly Tears: He's cried very few times in his life. The first time was when a bus ran into him as a child. The second was when he first learned of Li'l Sebastian's death. He very nearly cries a third time in "Citizen Knope" in reaction to Leslie's Christmas gift — remote-controlled closing doors for his office. He comes close to crying once again in "London, Part 2" after reading Robert Burns' "O were my Love yon Lilack fair" during his time in Scotland. Finally, his eyes can be seen welling up in "Leslie and Ron" as he recounts what happened to estrange him from Leslie (as well as in the flashback, following April's departure from the department).
  • Mentor Archetype: He essentially mentors the entire cast to varying degrees.
  • Morality Pet: Andy has slowly been softening him up.
  • Not So Above It All: Ron has a goofier, nicer side, just like everyone else. And he loves Li'l Sebastian quite possibly more than anyone.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: He acts as one on purpose in a (thanks to Leslie's hyper-competence) questionably effective attempt to make the government as useless as possible.
  • Odd Friendship:
    • With Leslie. Leslie is perky, optimistic, pro-government, and very personable and touchy-feely. Ron is none of those things. Despite this, Leslie is probably Ron's best friend, whether he admits it or not.
    • In Season 7, Ron actually becomes good friends with Typhoon, a flamboyantly effeminate hairdresser. They bond over a shared hatred of Eurotrash and faddish bicycle (though it's implied that Ron just finds it easy to talk to his barbers). In the finale, Ron is the best man at Typhoon and Craig's wedding.
  • One-Man Army: Nothing can keep him down.
  • Only Sane Man: He doesn't get involved in his coworkers' hijinks.
  • Papa Wolf: While initially unconcerned with Gryzzl's datamining, the moment his son's privacy becomes an issue he goes on the offensive.
  • Parental Substitute: To April and Andy, although April's parents are still around — especially Andy. He helps put Andy through college, offers advice to the young couple, and is their go-to guy (aside from Ben) when they need an "adult's advice".
    • When Ron is unsure of his parenting skills, spending the day with Andy (including taking him to the dentist) is what reassures him.
  • Patriotic Fervor: Of course. Here's what he thinks of Canada. Ron especially hates anything resembling Commie Land.
    • He does, however, actually come to like the Inner Hebrides of Scotland after Leslie sends him there to visit the Lagavulin distillery. He later buys the distillery (or a share in it, anyway)..
  • Perpetual Frowner: Even when he's being nice, he's stern. The only thing that makes him smile is the collapse of the Pawnee government.
  • Platonic Life Partners: With Leslie, to the point that Diane worries that Ron's so close to Leslie that there'll never be room for another woman in his life, despite Leslie and Ron having no romantic attraction whatsoever.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: "Is Star Wars the one with the little wizard boy?"
  • Professional Slacker: He lets Leslie run the department, which she is only too happy to do. Ron, as a fierce super-libertarian, is actually ideologically opposed to the government accomplishing things; the one time he is seen actually working with enthusiasm is when the city needs ideas on how to slash its budget.
  • Rated M for Manly: An interesting version of this. Ron is gruff, loves working with his hands, eats a lot of meat, drinks a lot of whiskey, and is a strong fighter. But this doesn't translate into racism, sexism, or homophobia like over examples might. Combined with his distrust of the government and big business, Ron could be considered the true libertarian ideal.
  • Real Men Eat Meat: To the point that he thinks fish are acceptable to catch, but not to eat since "fish meat is practically a vegetable".
    • Ron is also the inventor of the "Turf and Turf" - a 16-ounce T-bone steak lightly garnished with a 24-ounce Porterhouse.
    • In one episode, he is seen eating a turkey leg wrapped in bacon and guess what's it called? The Swanson.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Like the rest of Pawnee, he adores Li'l Sebastian.
  • Secretly Wealthy: Apparently owns a massive amount of gold and cash. So much so that, according to his attorney, the 5% he plans to leave to his step-children and biological son is considered a huge inheritance.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: The manly man to Chris' sensitive guy.
  • Shipper on Deck: He denies it, but in seasons 2 and 3, he clearly wants April and Andy to get together, to the point of being the one that tells April to either get with Andy or cut him loose, just stop leading him on. (He's quick to assure us that he doesn't care whether they get together, though.)
  • Sliding Scale of Libertarianism and Authoritarianism: As indicated by the above quote, Ron's political philosophy falls quite far on the libertarian side. He has explicitly referred to himself as a libertarian a number of times and sees no value in government-run institutions to the point of wanting everything privatized. Unfortunately for him, Leslie always has ambitious plans to expand the Parks Department. Hilarity Ensues.
    • Of course he also easily changes attitude when people don't comply with his personal philosophies. At a barbecue he leaves when people complain that he didn't even prepare beverages for children.
  • Starter Villain: He was initially the Big Bad of Season 7, until he and Leslie reconciled in "Leslie & Ron". Now Gryzzl itself is the Big Bad.
  • Stout Strength: For one thing, he took Jamm down with only one punch to the mouth.
  • Strawman Political: Averted. Despite generally being used as a foil to Leslie's well-intentioned interventionism, Ron's libertarian beliefs are for the most part treated respectfully and realistically.
  • Team Dad: Begrudgingly.
  • Theme Naming: He and his brothers all have names that rhyme: Ron, Don, Lon, Vaughn.
  • 'Tis Only a Bullet in the Brain: In "Hunting Trip".
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Red meat (especially steaks and burgers), breakfast food, and Scotch whisky.
  • Tsundere: Clearly towards Diane in Season 5.
  • Wham Line: In "Leslie and Ron", Ron reveals just how miserable time away from his friends made him.
    Ron: I was going to ask you for a job. (beat) In the federal government.
  • You Kill It, You Bought It: He intends to leave the bulk of his money to the person or animal that kills him.

    April Ludgate 

April Roberta Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza)
"No, I didn't win, but at least I didn't make any new friendships."

April is The Snark Knight. Originally, she was an apathetic college intern who constantly slacked off and seemed like she would rather be anywhere else. In the second season, she was hired as Ron's assistant specifically to stonewall anyone wishing to meet with him. Near the end of the fourth season, it's revealed that, while she generally hates people, April loves animals and realizes that this might be her calling. In Season 5, the incompetent Animal Control Department is absorbed by the Parks Department and April is appointed director of the new sub-department.

  • Adorkable: Not nearly as much as Andy, Leslie or Ben, but when she's happy about something or jokes around with someone (like making fun of Congressman Murray with Ben), it shines through.
    • Also in Season 2 when she's pining away after Andy and hinting her feelings towards him (which, being Andy, he initially fails to pick up on). When they finally get together she's clearly happy about it but tries (and fails) to blow it off as nothing big, ultimately running away from the camera as she tries to hide a smile:
      April: I guess we're dating. It's new. Whatever. I don't like labels. Go away...
  • Ambiguously Bi: She expresses interest in going to a strip club, and thinks Jerry's painting of the topless centaur that resembles Leslie is hot.
  • Ascended Extra: In season 1, April's relevant to the plot all of twice and even then tangentially, even though Aubrey Plaza got regular-cast credit from the beginning. Mid-Season 2 onwards she becomes one of the most focused-on characters in the main cast.
  • Aside Glance: Due to the format, all the characters do it from time to time, but the aside glance appears to be April's primary form of communication. Subverted earlier in the show, in that whenever April has been especially obnoxious to somebody else, she will sometimes give a resentful Aside Glance to show that she knows the camera has caught her obnoxiousness, and she isn't happy about it. Later in the show's run, when she becomes less cynical, less apathetic and less self-conscious, she gives fewer Aside Glances.
  • Babies Ever After: After some resistance, she and Andy eventually have a son named Jack in the Distant Finale, with another on the way.
  • Beta Couple: With Andy after they become a couple. She is the youngest, most cynical, and apathetic of the main female characters and is ironically the first of them to get married.
  • Be Yourself: In Season 5 she gets put into the public spotlight more and more as a representative for the parks department. At first she imitates Leslie as a way to get through her presentations, since Leslie has always been good at that sort of thing and it helps her deal with her nerves, but April realizes that Leslie's methods don't work for her and simply starts acting like herself. While this gets complaints for excessive rudeness, she is much more successful than she ever was imitating Leslie.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: She is actually rather smart, but would rather not bother with things like responsibility and hard work.
    April: I don't want to do things. I want to not do things.
  • Character Development: Her character arc starts in earnest in Season 4 and continues into Season 5 as she realizes that she can't be a complete jerk to everyone and attempts earnestly to forge a career. Besides that, April becomes more outgoing and eccentric as the show goes on, most prominently after marrying Andy. Lampshaded in "Miss Ludgate-Dwyer Goes to Washington".
    April: (to Leslie) When I started working for you, I was aimless and just thought everything was stupid and lame. You turned me into someone with goals and ambition. Which is the reason why I'm even thinking about what I really want.
    • At one point, she even mutters "God, why does everything we do have to be cloaked in, like, 15 layers of irony."
  • Creepy Monotone: Her tone of voice barely ever wavers from a steady monotone, suiting her Emotionless Girl personality, as well as helping with her generally creepy aura.
  • The Cynic: Starts off as the most cynical character in the show. However she eventually grows to be more encouraging and optimistic occasionally towards those she cares about at least.
  • Dare to Be Badass: She encourages Andy to pursue his dreams.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Easily the best example on the show.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: April starts to open up in season two, mostly thanks to Andy's influence.
  • Dismotivation: She and Ron get along well.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Roberta.
  • Embarrassing Nick Name: Her parents call her "Zuzu".
  • Emotionless Girl: Up to Eleven. Getting her to express any emotion besides scathing sarcasm is quite rare.
  • Fag Hag: Until midway into Season 2, she constantly hangs out with her "gay boyfriend" and his boyfriend. She breaks up with him because it turns out that Derek and Ben are actually rather mean, despite initial impressions to the contrary.
    April: Derek is gay but he's straight for me, but he's gay for Ben and Ben's really gay for Derek. And I hate Ben.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Melancholic
  • Fourth Date Marriage: Married Andy after dating a month.
  • Friend to All Living Things: In sharp contrast with her general hatred towards humans, April loves animals, particularly her and Andy's pet dog Champion. Managing an animal adoption show while Leslie was busy elsewhere was the first time she didn't utterly hate government work, and many of her later story arcs also revolve around animals.
  • The Gadfly: Loves messing with people in various ways, such as tricking her doppelgänger into breaking into Dwayne Wade's house or putting question mark stickers on stop signs.
  • Growing Up Sucks: Firmly believes so, as demonstrated in "Jerry's Painting". Andy manages to convince her by the end that they can be responsible adults while still staying true to themselves.
  • Happily Married: To Andy. For a given definition of 'happy' in her case, anyway.
  • Hipster: Of course, with her snarky attitude. Her favorite band is Neutral Milk Hotel, and aside from that, she only listens to German Death Reggae or Halloween sound effects records from the 1950s. (And Bette Midler, obviously.)
  • Jerkass Façade: She may talk tough and keep up a snarky exterior, but most of April's Emotionless Girl persona is really just a front to avoid openly demonstrating her emotions around others. Dating Andy and learning to embrace her career cracks that façade more and more, by Season 6 it's pretty much entirely gone.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: April's a pretty big jerk, she enjoys mocking Jerry, openly dislikes Ann, has little respect for the rules and claims to hate everyone and everything. However she does have a softer side, particularly towards Ron, Andy and later Leslie. As the show goes on, the "jerk" aspect fades — though she's always pretty creepy and abrasive, and even then she only ever uses it to destroy anything she genuinely despises, instead of just everybody around her.
  • Large Ham: Whenever she acts in-show, like when she adopts her "Janet Snakehole" character.
  • The Matchmaker: Though not a very good one. April is the one who pairs up Tom and Ann, much to her regret as they annoy her later with their relationship problems. She also tries to set up Chris, still sad from breaking up with Jerry's daughter Millicent, with Andy's Women's Studies professor. Said professor ends up sleeping with Ron instead.
  • Mixed Ancestry: She has a Latina mother and a white father.
  • Morality Pet: Andy becomes one for her in Season 2. Notably her time with him leads her to reject her two gay boyfriends due to being annoyed by how artificial their hipster ways were, plus their unpleasant attitude towards Andy.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: To an incredible degree. Examples include being happy at having fake blood splattered all over her, wanting to live in a house that used to house the insane, and being more interested in the horrible and disgusting effects pregnancy would have on her body than actually having a child. Donna even calls her "Satan's niece." When Andy went in for his police exam, she made him a good luck charm: she found a dead rabbit at the side of the road, cut off its feet, and stuffed it before giving it to him. Andy loved it.
  • Not Good with People: Starts up a pet adoption to avoid having to fill in for Leslie at government meetings.
    April: I think I may have found a project I'd actually enjoy doing. Helping these cats and dogs. They should be rewarded for not being people. I hate people.
  • Odd Friendship: She becomes quite close with Leslie despite them having completely opposite personalities. Her no-nonsense attitude gets on the good side of Donna as well, to the point of being Donna's maid of honor at her wedding. Her initial friendship with Andy in Season 2 could also count, however after they get married, they become more of The Odd Couple.
  • Opposites Attract: With peppy, dorky jock and rock singer Andy.
  • Pet the Dog: As befitting her being a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, April is capable of acts of true kindness here and there.
    • Literally in Season 3 when she and Andy adopt a three-legged dog named Champion. She adores him, states he's one of the few things she cares about, and eventually admits that helping homeless animals get adopted is one of the few things that could get her passionate about a boring, administrative job.
    • In "Meet and Greet", after seeing how uncomfortable and disgusted Jerry is over his daughter Millicent getting hot and heavy with Chris during the Halloween party, April swipes Chris' car keys so he won't be able to take Millicent back to his place to have sex with her.
    • After Leslie and Ben's argument in "The Treaty", she goes to console Leslie and encourages her to talk to Ben.
    • Guilty over successfully wishing misfortune upon Chris in "Bowling for Votes", she offers to take him to the movies with her and Andy with the tickets she won in the donation phone pool.
    • In Season 4, she sets Ann up with Tom because she genuinely thinks Tom makes her happy. She even tries to keep it a secret from Leslie because she knows about Ann's probable embarrassment.
    • Attempts to set Chris up with Andy's college professor. Though it's partially to get Chris off their backs, it was April who approached Chris first and invited him to dinner with them.
    • In Season 6, when she believes Jerry to be very ill, she tries hard to be nice to him, to the point of actually reaching into his shirt and scratching his back for him.
  • Pitbull Dates Puppy: April is snarky, mischievous, and claims to hate everyone, while Andy is goofy, upbeat and full of energy.
  • Professional Slacker: It's the whole reason Ron hired her.
    Ron: I don't care that you text all day and sleep at your desk. In fact, I encourage it.
  • Put on a Bus: The possibility is toyed with in Season 3, when Chris offers to take her back to Indianapolis with him to be his assistant.
  • Sarcastic Confession: In her words: "The truth is stupid. I only tell the truth when it makes me sound like I'm lying."
  • Sassy Secretary: And Ron likes it that way.
  • Secret Secret-Keeper: Reveals to Ron that she's aware of his double life as Duke Silver, as her mother has all of his albums and she recognized him the second they met.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: April, being played by Aubrey Plaza, always looks pretty, but usually gives the impression that she doesn't fuss much about her personal appearance. As her character development goes on and she becomes more involved with her work, she starts looking a lot more polished.
  • Shouldn't We Be in School Right Now?: Similar to Ann's One-Hour Work Week, April is a college student, but this isn't mentioned very often and she never seems to have to be in class, which implies that whatever college she's attending is close enough for her to be at the office so often during the day.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Dumps her cynical, moody boyfriend (and his boyfriend) because she likes the good-natured Andy.
  • Spicy Latina: She acknowledges the trope while averting it with extreme prejudice.
    April: [utterly deadpan] My mom's Puerto Rican. That's why I'm so lively and colorful.
    • Though she does play it pretty straight when she gets drunk.
  • Sugar and Ice Personality: April's cold, aloof and sometimes quite callous and anti-social. However she also has a sweeter side, which she occasionally shows to those she cares about.
  • That Makes Me Feel Angry: She has a tendency to blurt out her feelings: "I'm bored!" or "I'm cranky!" Her facial expression barely changes, however.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Starting from around season 3, but especially in season 4, April becomes a kinder, more considerate person to those she considers friends. But she's still a Troll.
    • Season 4 has her even list off the things she cares about (Andy, her dog Champion, Leslie, and the animal shelter), which the old April wouldn't have. She also starts giving relationship advice to Tom, Ann, and in season 5, Ron. She even admits (very begrudgingly) that she cares for Ann when saying goodbye to her in "Ann and Chris".
  • Trickster Archetype: Enjoys being pointlessly contradictory and playing pranks. Might have something to do with a particularly ruthless Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry.
  • Violently Protective Girlfriend: Do not embarrass Andy, hurt Andy's feelings, or be anything other than nice to Andy when she's around. Is usually more bark than bite but she's clearly furious when it happens so the potential is there. And if you are a woman, do not show any romantic interest in Andy whatsoever. He belongs to April.
  • Vocal Evolution: Her voice is softer and less expressive in the first two seasons than it is in later episodes.
  • When She Smiles: Especially in the early seasons; her few smiles are really pretty. After she loosens up a bit they start to become far more frequent and directed at people other than her Morality Pet Andy.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Spiders?: She has that arachnocornucopia thing.
  • Will They or Won't They?: With Andy during the second season. They Do.
  • Woman Child: Starts out as a college student, but continues acting like a moody high schooler well into her twenties.
  • Yaoi Fangirl:
    April: I passed up a gay Halloween party to be here. Do you know how much fun gay Halloween parties are? Last year I saw three Jonas Brothers make out with three Robert Pattinsons. It was amazing.

    Andy Dwyer 

Andrew Maxwell Dwyer (Chris Pratt)
"I just wrote a new song, okay? Bottom line, it's called 'Sex Hair'. It's about how you can tell when someone just had sex 'cause of how their hair gets matted up in the back. It's awesome."

Andy was introduced as Ann's idiotic musician boyfriend in the first season and originally intended as a temporary character. He was retained in the second season after Ann broke up with him and landed a job as a shoe-shiner at City Hall. He had a Will They or Won't They? relationship with April in the second season. In the third season, he and April married after having dated for less than a month, much to Leslie's horror. Since then, their marriage has proved surprisingly stable. At the start of Season 4, Andy leaves his shoe-shiner job and joins the Parks Department.

  • Acrofatic While he's a bit on the heftier side, he's still pretty athletic.
  • Adorkable: Despite being a stereotypical jock, Andy shows elements of this from time to time, especially when he morphs into his alter ego, FBI agent Burt Macklin, whenever a situation requires the presence of law enforcement. He also likes to reenact scenes from action movies and it is discovered in one episode that he made a bucket list of all of the things he would like to do once in his life before he dies.
  • Adult Child: The best way to describe Andy would be "a ten year old in an adult's body".
  • Amusing Injuries: Andy gets hurt. A lot. And it is almost always hilarious.
  • Animal Motif: A fairly subtle one, but Andy behaves a lot like a big, dumb dog. He's friendly, a little slow to pick up on things, and has somewhat unrefined manners. He even dries himself by shaking. When his legs were still broken, he even bathed himself outside in a kiddie pool and specifically mentioned that he got the idea from seeing his parents wash their dog.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: He has a strong case of this. He almost always misses important information because he gets distracted by things like a bird flying past.
  • Author Catchphrase: He mentions that he uses the lines 'spread your wings and fly' and 'you deserve to be a champion' in all of his songs. The first lyric at least can actually be heard in the studio versions of most of his songs.
  • Babies Ever After: With April in the Distant Finale.
  • Beta Couple: With April after they become a couple.
  • Breakout Character: Started out as the least important character on the show (being the boyfriend of someone not even in the Parks Department), but gradually becomes one of the most beloved characters in the series.
  • Buffy Speak: Largely due to stupidity and not really knowing any technical terms.
  • Captain Obvious: Because he's often Late to the Punchline, he'll usually restate something everyone always figured out.
  • Character Development: Started off as a Lazy Bum jerkass in Season 1 to a becoming a lot more considerate in Season 2. He also becomes a lot more responsible as time goes on.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Mostly in Season 4 and after, comes with being The Ditz. It's not normal for someone to dedicate a whole episode's investigation just to find who threw the pie at Jerry in "Bus Tour". That's just one of many examples.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: To Mark when he was still in love with Ann, and then towards Eduardo when he was trying to win back April.
  • The Ditz:
    Andy: Leslie, I typed your symptoms into the thing up here and it says that you might have... Network Connectivity Problems.
    • Genius Ditz: He's got a pretty sharp memory and can do well when he applied himself. He was also the first applicant ever to get a 100 on the written part of the Police Academy exam, but completely fails the personality test. And despite the often silly or simplistic lyrical content, he's also a very talented musician. He also gets so bored he starts to think about existentialism after Chris gives him a job as a City Hall security guard.
  • Does Not Understand Sarcasm:
    April: I'll go too.
    Tom: Really? 'Cause an hour ago you told me you'd rather watch a sex tape of your grandparents.
    April: Shut up! I don't have anything else to do. Do you want help or not?
    Tom: All right, see you guys later. [Leaves]
    Andy: I think that it's really, really sweet that your grandparents still make love.
    • In another episode, Andy and Tom are escorted to the archiving room by the extremely old Ethel Beavers. As soon as she leaves, Tom jokingly tells Andy to remind him to ask her where she was when Lincoln got shot. Andy makes sure to write it down.
    • This becomes rather ironic when he gets together with April, who is absolutely the most sarcastic and snarky character on the show.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: His entire character becomes entirely different after Season 1, where he goes from a Jerkass who is taking advantage of Ann to a lovable idiot who is among the nicest characters on the show.
  • Fake Guest Star: In the first season, Chris Pratt was credited as a guest star despite appearing in every episode. They did shuffle back and forth on putting him in the opening titles during the first season, but nevertheless he was consistently referred to as a guest star. From the second season onward, he was credited as a normal regular.
  • Feigning Intelligence: Andy has tried to sound smart on several occasions, and failed spectacularly every time. And, somehow, simultaneously Obfuscating Stupidity. For all of his idiocy, there are occasional hints that he's actually much more intelligent than he seems at first glance.
  • Formerly Fat: In the sixth and seventh seasons, he slims down quite a lot, owing it to having cut down on beer consumption. In real life, it was because Chris Pratt had toned up for Guardians of the Galaxy.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Sanguine
  • Friend to All Children: He gets along great with young kids, due in part to him being an overgrown kid himself.
  • Global Ignorance:
    • In the same episode, he says Venezuela is both "across the pond" and a city in Mexico.
    • He thinks that the states that form the Four Corners are Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and Oregon.
  • Happily Married: To April after the third season.
  • Jerkass: In Season 1. He grows out of it.
  • Like a Son to Me: Ron is generally at his most fatherly when interacting with him. To a lesser extent, Chris as well.
  • Literal-Minded: Leslie commissions him to write a song for Li'l Sebastian's funeral that's "five thousand times better than 'Candle in the Wind'". Andy writes a song titled "Five Thousand Candles in the Wind".
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Andy tends to try to downplay serious injuries. Other times he completely forgets about them, such as when he broke his thumb while on the way to visit the doctor's office to get his concussion checked.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: A Male version, to April.
  • Morality Pet: The only person April is consistently kind to, at least before she Took a Level in Kindness.
  • Nice Guy: While his stupidity can still lead to awkward situations at times, Andy overall becomes a very likable and well-meaning person after his Character Development, and is generally friendly to everyone except Jerry and Kyle.
  • Oblivious to Love: Towards the end of Season 2, it becomes clear that this is at least partially an act due to the age difference between him and April making Andy uncertain.
  • Odd Friendship: He spends a lot of time with Ben and Tom in later seasons.
  • Opposites Attract: With April.
  • Parental Substitute: Ron is a straight example, while Leslie is a mix of this and a Cool Big Sis to him.
  • Put on a Bus: After the London 2-part special at the beginning of season 6, due to Chris Pratt landing the starring role in Guardians of the Galaxy which is filmed near London. To the credit of the production team, many shows put a lot less effort into putting characters on buses under the same circumstances.
  • Shipper on Deck/The Matchmaker: In Season 5, Andy does more to get Ron and Diane together than either Ron or Diane.
    • In "Jerry's Painting", he can also tell immediately that Ben likes Leslie and states his approval for them to get together.
  • Stalker With a Crush:
    • In the first part of Season 2, Andy keeps trying to win Ann's affections back, and even lives in a ravine near Ann's house to 'protect' her.
    • To a lesser extent in the first few episodes of Season 3, when he tries to redeem himself in April's eyes after admitting to having kissed Ann in the second season finale.
  • The Stoner: Andy certainly seems like he'd be a stoner, but nothing is confirmed until "Correspondents' Lunch", where Leslie realizes the "fertility tea" she bought for Ann is probably actually weed and throws it away. The camera immediately pans over to Andy and April, who seem to be silently discussing stealing the baggie once no one's watching.
  • Stout Strength: He's a bit chubby, but also very strong.
  • Too Dumb to Fool: April's attempts at Operation: Jealousy both fail because he's too dumb or naïve to be tricked.
  • Took a Level in Dumbass: While never particularly bright, he was originally more lazy and immature than stupid.
    • Around Season 3 and especially Season 4 he became a full-fledged ditz who confuses Mount Rushmore with the Grand Canyon.
    • For example: in Season 2, Andy acknowledges he can't perform his newest song at the Freddy Spaghetti concert because it's called "Sex Hair". When he is about to play at a children's birthday party in Season 6, he changes the name of the song to "Sex Bears", not realizing the word 'sex' is the problem with performing the song until April tells him.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: His evolution into a more likable person during the second season. There was some of this in the first season too, particularly in one episode where he goes out of the way to clean the house (and himself!) as a surprise for Ann while impaired by his cast.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: In Season 2, April develops a crush on Andy, who at the time is trying to win back his ex-girlfriend Ann and is unaware of April's feelings throughout most of the season. However, he eventually catches on and begins to reciprocate her affection despite having been previously weirded out by their eight-year age difference. In the season finale, Andy asks April out, but she turns him down because she believes he still has feelings for Ann. Ann, meanwhile, is going through a romantic mess of her own and, in a moment of confusion, kisses Andy. Andy breaks his arm, causing April to realize that life is short and to agree to go out with Andy. Andy ruins his chances when he decides to tell her about his kiss with Ann. In the third season premiere, April returns from vacation with a new boyfriend, and Andy spends the next few episodes trying to win her back. He eventually succeeds, and despite a few more minor bumps in the road, they are married within 3 episodes of coming together.
  • Will They or Won't They?: With April during the second season and first half of the third. They Do.

    Ben Wyatt 

Benjamin Wyatt (Adam Scott)
"Well, you have to be able to make decisions like this, Leslie. You have to be harsh, you know. No one's going to elect you to do anything if you don't show that you're a responsible grown-up."

A state auditor who comes to Pawnee with Chris to evaluate the town's funds at the end of the second season. Promoted to series regular in the third season. He is blunt and cynical, but has a Freudian Excuse.

  • Adorkable: Is deep into geek culture, enough that he creates his own tabletop game and Leslie once gave him his own Iron Throne. He’s so enthusiastic about his favorite properties that he cannot resist correcting his coworkers when they show their naïveté about a subject, even though they’re usually being facetious to needle him and don’t really care.
    Donna: What is wrong with you today? Did they cancel Game of Thrones?
    Ben: Nothing is wrong, just do your job! [Beat] They would never cancel Game of Thrones. It's a crossover hit! It's not just for fantasy enthusiasts! They're telling human stories in a fantasy world! [Beat, calms down] Fill out the forms, please.
  • Ambiguously Bi: When going off on a talk show host, he can be heard saying, "Everyone has gay thoughts!" Although he may not completely fulfill the trope, since said talk show host was heckling and flustering him into saying several embarrassing things.
  • Aside Glance: Ben is the king of this.
  • Badass Bureaucrat: Ben is incredibly good and efficient at his job. He's managed to save six towns (including Pawnee) from bankruptcy. Upon taking on a new job in Pawnee, he takes to it like a duck to water. Other accountants in the series call him brilliant and he potentially ends up president of the United States. He's so good, even Leslie considers him "a genius." The fact they're both so competent and good at their jobs is one of the reasons they work so well together.
  • Bait-and-Switch Tyrant: Served this role in his initial appearance, wherein his cynicism and designation by Chris as the Bearer of Bad News made Leslie consider him the 'bad guy'. This very quickly changes though.
  • Bearer of Bad News: Chris often forces him into this position. In Season 6, it's revealed that Ben actually loved getting to play this role whilst working with Chris.
  • Berserk Button: Any mention of him as a mayor when he was 18 years old is bound to set him off.
    • You also do not want to call Leslie a bitch in front of him. Or insult her in general.
  • Breakout Character: Steadily became the Deuteragonist due to overwhelmingly positive feedback for his character.
  • Brutal Honesty: Ben is a master of delivering frank but accurate assessments of the current situation. He admits that it's what he loves most about his job.
  • The Comically Serious: Generally always deadpan when faced with his co-workers' antics, though he does have a breaking point.
  • The Cynic: Though he gets better, thanks to Leslie and Pawnee in general.
  • Deadpan Snarker: While subtler than other examples on this show, he definitely has his moments, though most of the time he is more 'deadpan' than 'snarky'.
    Leslie: Well, but Chris said you just had to tinker with things.
    Ben: Yeah, he said that because that sounds a lot better than "we're going to gut it with a machete".
  • Deuteragonist: Very quickly begins to share the center stage with Leslie, to the point of practically being the co-lead in later seasons.
  • Extreme Doormat: Although he's capable and authoritative in a professional setting, it's revealed he's easily walked over in his personal life. He struggles to confront April and Andy about issues when rooming with them and a big milestone for him and Leslie is her realizing she can't just steamroll him and his feelings.
    Ben: My family is very non-confrontational. My parents' method of problem solving is to kind of keep everything bottled up and just subtly hint at what's bothering them.
  • Face Palm: Ben's typical reaction to Pawnee, its citizens, and his own personal disasters.
  • Five Temperament Ensemble: Melancholic
  • Happily Married: To Leslie as of mid-Season 5.
  • Hollywood Nerd: Definite Type II. Shauna Malwae-Tweep and Marlene Griggs-Knope certainly agree.
  • Improbable Age: Was mayor of a town at 18. A caller to the Crazy Ira and the Douche radio show lampshades this in the most offensively unintelligent way possible:
    Caller: Seems like eighteen is pretty young for a mayor. What were you, like, twelve?
  • In-Series Nickname: Ben accumulates a lot of these in his short time in the series ("Mean Ben", "Turd Boy", "Human Disaster", "Calzone Boy", "Nerd", etc). In fandom, "Human Disaster" especially has grown to almost memetic proportions.
  • I Resemble That Remark!: A Running Gag with Tom is Tom will make some kind of geek insult about Ben, with Ben to respond indignantly at being called a geek with an even geekier answer. For example, Tom insulting that Ben wants to take a Hobbit tour of New Zealand, and Ben responding that he did not care for Peter Jackson's adaptation.
  • Jerkass Façade: Puts one up when acting as state auditor and he has to be ruthless in order to make budget cuts and play bad cop to Chris' good cop. Years of being hated everywhere he goes also seems to have made him more brusque and closed off. However it's quickly revealed that he's a lot sweeter than he appears and develops into one of the nicest characters on the show. He also softens up a lot socially thanks to Leslie and making friends with the rest of the Parks department.
  • The Lancer: Both Leslie's closest ally and immediate foil following his introduction.
  • My Greatest Failure: Bankrupting his hometown of Partridge when he was 18. It's why he's so cynical in the present day, as he still carries a lot of guilt and shame over it and admits to Leslie that he works as a state auditor to make up for his past mistakes. Although Leslie eventually helps him move on, Season 5 establishes the Partridge citizens aren't so forgiving and the media brings it up to drag his name through the mud on several occasions.
  • Nerds Speak Klingon: He speaks Dothraki.
  • Nice Guy: Once you get past the Brutal Honesty and pessimism, Ben is easily one of the nicest and most reliable characters on the show, not to mention being the Only Sane Man most of the time.
    • He's also one of the few, if not the only character, to have never made fun of Jerry. Even other "nice" characters like Chris, Andy, and Leslie can't say that. Though even he never refers to Jerry by his real name.
  • No Social Skills: Initially he's pretty awkward, tactless and doesn't try to make friends because he moves around so much. Leslie and the rest of the Parks department help him get more comfortable.
  • Not So Stoic: When some wise guy pushes his Berserk Button.
  • Odd Friendship: Ben seems to have a supreme talent for forming these with other men. Tom, Andy and Chris couldn't be more dissimilar to him, but over time his friendships with each of them begin to border on Heterosexual Life-Partners levels of closeness.
    • He also 'came out' that Jerry is his friend and the others shouldn't be so mean to him.
  • Official Couple: With Leslie.
  • Old Shame: In-Universe: Bankrupting his hometown during his stint as teen mayor when he built an expensive winter sports center. When Crazy Ira and the Douche bring it up in "Media Blitz", it absolutely ruins his composure.
  • One Steve Limit: Is an aversion. Ben was previously the name of April's boyfriend's boyfriend.
  • Only Sane Employee: He's about on par with Leslie in terms hypercompetency at his job, but is both more grounded and less obsessive than she is.
  • Only Sane Man: The most normal and rational character on the show, as well as one of the most serious. Despite this, he's a shining example of how the straight man can be just as funny and interesting as their wackier associates.
  • Opposites Attract: Subverted with Leslie, as after their rocky first impression they're actually shown to have incredibly similar qualities and the Ship Tease ultimately results in a seasons-spanning romance arc and marriage.
  • Persona Non Grata: "Partridge" shows that his eponymous hometown still holds a very intense grudge over the Ice Town debacle. His sister runs as soon as a crowd points her out as a relative, and Leslie and Ben even get chased out of a local park when a ranger recognizes him.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: In Season 3.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Blue to Chris' Red. Later Blue to Leslie's Red as well.
  • The Reliable One: To almost every character - he's Leslie's biggest supporter in her career, Chris' right-hand man, Tom's go-to guy for business advice (even if Tom doesn't take it all the time) and kicks Andy and April into high gear to become more responsible while living with them.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Savvy guy to Leslie's energetic girl.
  • Sharp Dressed Man: In a sleepy Midwestern town, he definitely stands out.
  • The Stoic: He is usually the calm and sensible guy, compared to the other employees. He rarely laughs, cries or loses his temper.
  • Straight Man: He is easily one of the most sensible characters on the show.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: He replaces Mark in this role. He doesn't have the same job, but he acts as a foil/possible love interest to Leslie in a similar way. By the end of the third season, however, Ben is definitely his own character. Also, according to creator Michael Schur, even though Ben was brought in with the idea that he might be a love interest/foil for Leslie, he was hesitant to label Ben that, reasoning that they hadn't shot a single scene with the two of them yet, and implying that, like Andy/April, there needed to be chemistry for it to work.
    • He's undeniably replaced Mark as the show's 'straight man' though; the difference with Ben is that he has definable traits that allowed him to fit in with the rest of the cast and be able to spin laughs out of.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Calzones, which earns him no end of derision from everyone he knows. Although he is temporarily disillusioned from beloved calzones after he incurs a devastating case of food poisoning in "Ann's Decision". It proves not to last for long.
  • True Love Is Exceptional: Chris comments that in the past, Ben has exclusively dated only tall brunettes, while the love of his life ends up being the short blonde Leslie.
  • Uptight Loves Wild: An arguably more Downplayed example than most. He's a stuffy, cynical, rational, rule-abiding state auditor and he falls for the energetic, incredibly optimistic, quirky, impulsive, and occasional rule-bending Parks director Leslie. They are eventually married and he loosens up considerably over the course of the series because of both her and Pawnee's influence.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: He's afraid of cops, and in "Dave Returns" has to interact with a lot of them.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Has so much of this with Leslie in seasons 3 and 4, though ultimately They Do.
  • The Woobie: Becomes this in-universe (and to some viewers) when Donna takes him on her and Tom's annual "Treat Yo'self Day" after seeing him outside at lunch:
    Donna: Oh, Lord. Is he eating soup on a bench? Alone?
    • His Woobieness increases later that day when he buys himself a Batman costume to wear as his version of treating himself and begins to weep, his sadness over the breakup of his secret relationship with Leslie finally coming out.
      Donna: Uh oh. Batman's crying.
    • He's pretty sympathetic throughout his and Leslie's break up. She at least has her campaign for city council to distract her, while Ben genuinely doesn't have much else in his life - much like before he arrived in Pawnee - and even asks her if they can stay away from each other because it's just too painful for him.
    • He also slips into this role whenever his past as an impeached mayor is brought up.

    Chris Traeger 

Christopher Traeger (Rob Lowe)
"I take care of my body above all else; diet, exercise, supplements, positive thinking. Scientists believe that the first human being who will live a hundred and fifty years has already been born. I believe I am that human being."

Ben's partner, opposite and Heterosexual Life Partner. He is cheerful and optimistic, but, in an effort to be liked, he always forces Ben to be the messenger for any bad news. Chris is also a health nut. In Season 3 the mayor of Pawnee asks him to fill in for the city manager who's recovering from a heart attack.

  • The Ace: Donna even calls him the Bionic Man.
    • Broken Ace: He's a hypochondriac, is shown to be unable to cope with the idea of being unhappy and his ultra-positivity often makes him unintentionally a jerk to others (i.e. his behavior toward Ann and Jerry, as well as designating Ben the Bearer of Bad News).
  • Back for the Finale
  • Becoming the Mask: As a baby, Chris was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder and was not expected to live longer than three weeks, but miraculously survived. As a result, he sees every day he is alive as a gift, which results in his intensely cheerful and enthusiastic personality. Which explains why we will now see Chris as a health-conscious neurotic who obsesses about every thing, highly perfectionist to the point that he gets really upset when his rules aren't followed and things don't go his way and believes things like exposure to germs and red meat (and fatty foods) could LITERALLY kill him. He even freaks out when he finds out he has tendinitis.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: There is a considerable amount of steel and determination underneath the niceness. In "The Trial Of Leslie Knope", Tammy Two left in a hurry without giving any testimony when Chris made it perfectly clear that he wasn't going to put up with any of her bullshit and she'd pay dearly for lying under oath. When Jamm interrupted Leslie and Ben's wedding, he and Andy looked equally furious when Jamm insulted Leslie, both of them jumping to their feet simultaneously. The only reason he didn't join Andy in beating the shit out of Jamm is because Ron beat them to it.
  • Birds of a Feather: When he was dating Jerry's oldest daughter Millicent.
  • Breakout Character: He was originally only intended to appear in the last two episodes of Season 2 and the first six episodes of Season 3. However, after the positive critical reception of the character, Rob Lowe signed a multi-year contract and became a main cast member for several seasons.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Despite his relentless optimism, his emotional troubles and his many eccentricities, he is consistently shown to be a clear-eyed, cunning and capable administrator. He does make a handful of bad decisions right after becoming city manager, but if Ron is to be believed, this is par for the course every time the position changes hands, and Chris is insightful enough to know that rolling over on all of his decisions will undermine his credibility.
  • Catch-Phrase: One of his strategies for making Ben seem like the bad guy instead of him involves variations of this:
    [Character complains about X]
    Chris: Well, that's terrible! Is there anything we can do about that, Ben?
    Ben: Uh, no.
    Chris: Damn! [Hastens off the scene]
    • Subverted Catch-Phrase: Chris tries to use this once, but then he realizes Ben isn't in the room.
    • He tends to address characters by their full names, particularly characters he likes, particularly Ann, to the point where "Ann Perkins!" becomes a catch phrase. He does it to Leslie as well, but less so.
    • He frequently uses the word "literally" in hyperbole, punctuating it for emphasis. "That is. Literally. The best news I've heard all day."
    • "I would like an X. I would like it to be Y. And I would like it to be Z." After he orders a drink this way at a restaurant, Ann riffs on it for her own drink order: "I would like some white wine. I would like it to be cold. And I would like it with one ice cube."
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: He has to help everyone he meets if they have a problem. Even if he has no idea what the problem is, he jumps straight in and tries to help them in any way he can. This eventually drives Ann to a breaking point during her pregnancy, wherein he learns that the best advice is just to sometimes say, "That sucks" and let her complain.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: The worst moment of this is probably when he breaks up with Ann through a feng shui metaphor so vague that she doesn't actually realize she's been dumped for a week.
  • Chosen Conception Partner: When Ann goes looking for a sperm donor to father her child, she eventually chooses Chris. But after they get back together, they wind up making a baby the old-fashioned way.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Andy states that Chris is the guy he would pick if "[he] had to pick a dude". Chris is rather flattered by this.
  • Foil: In many ways, he's the exact opposite from Ron Swanson.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Sanguine
  • Full-Name Basis: He greets everyone by pointing at them and saying their name.
  • Giving Someone the Pointer Finger: It's part of his usual greeting, but it's also what he does when he meets someone for the first time. It can be off-putting.
    Ron: Hello, gents! Ron Swanson. [Reaches for a handshake)]
    Chris: [Point] Ron... Swanson.
    Ron: Okay.
  • Granola Guy: Due to his health nut tendencies.
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Revealed to be this in "Dave Returns". He doesn't know the words for "Take Me Out to the Ball Game", either.
  • Hypochondria: An extension of being born with a blood disease.
  • In Touch with His Feminine Side: His pink shower cap (from a breast cancer awareness triathlon), and he even has a leg razor. Chris sees none of this anything to be ashamed of. He also doesn't see kissing Ron on his birthday as anything strange.
  • The Matchmaker: He expresses a fondness for this in "Jerry’s Painting" and endeavors to set Ben up with someone. Played for irony given his new rules are actually keeping Ben from the one person he's actually interested in.
  • Moment Killer: An indirect version in that his rules against relationships within the government are the only obstacle in Leslie and Ben’s way, although he does not realize this. There are straighter examples in "Road Trip" where (1) Ben confesses to Leslie at dinner; Leslie leaves for a moment to consult Ann and steels herself to go back and kiss Ben only to find that Chris has appeared and has seated himself at their table, and (2) Ben and Leslie get increasingly cute while watching TV together on the couch in Chris' hotel room and Chris keeps interrupting with his frequent bathroom trips.
  • Mr. Fanservice: He is regularly described as being superhumanly attractive by other characters, and constantly wears tight-fitting clothing or goes shirtless.
  • Nice Guy: While his overly cheerful personality sometimes leads to unintentional Jerkass moments, Chris is overall a very well-meaning man who implements a health initiative out of a genuine desire to improve the health of the citizens of Pawnee. He is also friendly and polite to almost everyone. An excellent example of his niceness occurs during Ben's bachelor party when he finds out none of the other guys got to have their own bachelor parties for various reasons. His response? He gives everyone the perfect bachelor party they never got to have.
  • No Social Skills: An odd case. While he's incredibly outgoing and charismatic, he manages to be so outgoing and charismatic that it wraps around to making everything he says come off as stilted and strange. He basically operates on a level beyond the average person socially.
  • Official Couple: With Ann as of Season 6.
  • Older Than They Look: He's forty-four. The most common in-universe estimate is twenty-five.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted. In "The Set-Up" before he was introduced, Ann set Leslie up with a colleague named Chris (see Leslie's profile — he's the guy who gave her the MRI).
  • The Pollyanna: So positive, he scares off Orin, the creepy and morbid Goth at April and Andy's wedding. When he was born with a deadly, rare blood disease, the doctors told his parents he would only live for a few months. That's why he is so positive!
  • Principles Zealot: He will not budge or bend the rules, even if he would personally like to. He hates the fact that he has to investigate Ben and Leslie's relationship in "The Trial of Leslie Knope" and genuinely wants them to get off scot-free, but he refuses to half-ass the investigation and does it to the best of his ability.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles
  • Pure Is Not Good: His exceedingly healthy body, which he compares to a finely-tuned microchip, is more than once played as a weakness. When he catches the flu, it hits him like a truck.
    Chris: Stop... pooping...
  • Put on a Bus: After Ann gives birth in the middle of Season 6.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: He becomes this, pointing out to Ron after the debacle of the family barbecue that the point of the barbecue was to thank the employees for their hard work (the implication being that Ron's determination to show off his meat-cooking skills, and his hissy fit when everyone kept complaining that it was taking too long, were inappropriate).
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Red to Ben's Blue.
  • Sarcasm-Blind:
    Chris: It is exactly because of that lewd photo that I am here. [...] If I could go back in time and cut your eyeballs out, I would.
    April: Wow, that is so sweet.
    Chris: Thank you.
Although in a later episode he seems to understand that Ann is using sarcasm, but not that it's meant as a jab at him.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: The sensitive guy to Ron's manly man.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Does this periodically, usually with his trademark happy smile.
  • Stepford Smiler:
    • In "The Trial of Leslie Knope", he's so anxious and depressed about Leslie's trial that he loads up on herbal remedies in a way that is creepily reminiscent of a drug addict. Leslie notes he looks like he's radiating pure joy, but that's because he's trying to stay his upbeat self.
    • Other episodes show that he has crippling issues about his mortality that he barely manages to cover up. It's really the only reason he's such a health nut. He begins spiraling into depression when his break-up with Millicent and Ann's (apparent) moving on with Tom make him wonder if he'll just end up alone.
  • Straw Vegetarian: While he does eat meat, his health nut tendencies are usually focused on getting away from red meat and he's treated the same as a Straw Vegetarian. On multiple occasions he's shown thinking various plants are reasonable alternatives to meat. Most telling is when he wanted to remove hamburgers from the commissary. He bet Ron he could make a turkey burger better than a hamburger. When they had the cook-off, Chris slaved over his burgers with the finest ingredients. Ron slapped ground beef on a grill. Ron won in a landslide because beef is just better. Even Chris was 100 percent convinced.
  • Terrified of Germs: During flu season:
    Chris: [Increasingly frantically] I have to get out of here. I have 2.8 percent body fat. My body's like a microchip. A grain of sand could destroy it. My body's a microchip. [Leaves]
  • Too Much Information: Chris has a habit of being very direct and honest with people. This sometimes results in him saying things that would probably be better left unsaid, like telling female colleagues when they've done something he finds arousing.
    • While dating Milly, Chris insisted on including Jerry in his courtship out of respect for him as her father. This includes telling Jerry whenever Milly slept over at Chris' house.
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted! He starts seeing a therapist in Season 5 and it does him a world of good.
  • Therapy Is for the Weak: Also averted! Chris seeing a therapist is probably the best thing he's done for his own health, and it shows. It's also made clear that no one looks down on him for seeking help, and in fact, all his friends encourage it.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: When Chris first appears in Season 2, he quickly falls for Ann, who had just broken up with Mark (and had lingering feelings toward her other ex-boyfriend Andy) and is not interested. After pursuing her for some time, she eventually reciprocates and they date for a while in Season 3. When they break up, Ann spends the next several episodes trying to get over Chris while he has already moved on. Later on around the middle of Season 4, Chris begins to have feelings for Ann again and spends the rest of the season depressed over her on and off relationship with Tom. Then in Season 5, Chris starts dating news reporter Shauna Malwae-Tweep and Ann (who has broken up with Tom for good by that point) becomes jealous.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: He's built his body to perfection. Unfortunately, that also means that his body is sensitive to things that most people aren't too worried about. Flu hits him hard, and he has to constantly replenish electrolytes. And his body's tolerances are so tight that he has to go to the bathroom twelve times a night.
  • Villain Ball: Unfortunately picks it up by his own principles in "The Trial of Leslie Knope". He refuses to back down on his own rule of "no office relationships" to investigate and punish Leslie and Ben to the full extent of his ability. However, he also fully admits to not enjoying having to, is noticeably stressed out by it and openly happy it didn't uncover anything worse.
    • He also holds his own witnesses to the same standards, even if they are willing to perjure themselves to win him the case. In the case of Tammy 2, he reminds her that she will be under oath, and that if she lies, he will find out, have her charged, and then fire her. She quickly recants that she has evidence that will prove Leslie and Ben did things that were unethical, and leaves the courthouse immediately.

    Jerry Gergich 

Jerry Gergich (Jim O’Heir)
"Well, you know it's like I always say, 'It ain't government work if you don't have to do it twice.'"

An older Butt-Monkey who has worked in the Parks Department since the 1970s. He's picked on by everyone, particularly 'mean' characters like Tom and April, but also by 'nice' characters like Leslie. He is regarded as a boring, out-of-touch loser, but actually seems to have his personal life squared away better than anyone else.

  • Accidental Misnaming: In "The Trial of Leslie Knope", it's revealed that his name is actually Garry:
    Jerry: "On my first day here, the old director, he called me "Jerry" and I just didn't think I should correct him."
    • Actually if you look you at his ID card in the previous episode his name Garry is clearly visible if you look closely.
    • Malicious Misnaming: At the start of the sixth season, April effectively changes his name to "Larry Gengurch." He's been known exclusively as "Larry" ever since. Even NBC's website for the show now recognizes him as Larry Gengurch!
      • Taken Up to Eleven by the Time Skip at the end of "Moving Up", during which time people began calling him "Terry" due to there being another Larry. In Season 7, he uses that name until Donna uses "Garry" on his banquet placecard, at which point everyone starts calling him that.
    • In the series finale, even his headstone winds up getting his name wrong.
  • Beneath the Mask: Later episodes have shown that it's actually difficult to maintain his upbeat attitude at the office in light of all the abuse he takes, which may lead to some of his clumsiness.
  • Biggus Dickus/Gag Penis
    Dr. Harris: That man has the largest penis I have ever seen. I actually don't even know if he has mumps, forgot to look. I was distracted... by the largest penis I have ever seen.
    • And in a deleted scene from season 5 Tom mentions Boogie Nights and Jerry tells the gang that Gayle always said that he reminds her of the main character. Jerry looks nothing like Mark Wahlberg, but his wife does know him a little bit more intimately than we do. If you know what I mean.
  • Butt-Monkey: He gets yelled at and demeaned by everyone in the office, to the point where he's this show's version of Toby.
    • Inverted when he's with his family, when he inexplicably morphs into The Ace.
  • Catch-Phrase: "Oh jeez..." whenever someone yells at him for doing something wrong. Which happens all the time.
  • The Chew Toy
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Not in any traditional sense, but when Leslie finally sees Jerry's home life, it's very clear that he's a completely different person around his family; and even though they can be completely over-the-top with how sickeningly sweet they are, he's probably the most content and self-assured person in the entire series. Contrasted with how he's shown around his coworkers throughout most of the series, this is a pretty huge contrast.
  • Deceptive Legacy: When Mark accuses Jerry of hiding how he was adopted, a stunned Jerry reveals he never knew he was.
  • Doting Parent: He has three daughters, all of whom he dotes on. In turn, they positively adore him.
  • Extreme Doormat: He's a bit weak-willed and takes the abuse without a word of protest. However, it really doesn't get to him much.
  • Flanderization: Thanks to Early Installment Weirdness, Jerry in Season 1 is depicted as competent and responsible enough to lead a group of kids on a field trip in plant identification; it's Leslie who's so incompetent that without waiting for Jerry's say-so, she eats a weed which makes her tongue swell up. By Season 6, Jerry can't even bend over without trashing a room.
  • Five Temperament Ensemble: Phlegmatic
  • Gasshole
  • Go Out with a Smile: Dies peacefully on his 100th birthday, happily holding hands with Gayle and surrounded by his large and beautiful family.
  • Happily Married: To his wife Gayle.
  • Hidden Depths: He's a very good and impossibly fast artist.
  • I Have Many Names: He's actually named Garry Gergich, but on his first day in the department the Parks director mistakenly called him "Jerry" and he didn't have the nerve to correct him, so it stuck until his retirement. When he returned to the Department a few months later, April declared his real name was Larry Gengurch after he requested they started using his real name instead of Jerry. At some point during the Time Skip in "Moving Up," the office began calling him Terry instead; on the Johnny Karate Super Awesome Musical Explosion Show, he also plays Mailman Barry. Noted when the guys burnt their initials into a "Buddy Box" for Chris as a going-away present.
    Chris: (Confused) Who's GJLGG?"
    Larry: Garry Jerry Larry Gergich Gengurch.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Before Gayle's first pregnancy, he supposedly had a similar figure to Chris.
  • Impossibly Tacky Clothes: He actually dresses in completely unremarkable business casual the majority of the time, it's just that he has no interest whatsoever in what's trendy. Tom naturally picks on him endlessly for this.
  • Incredibly Lame Fun: The reason he keeps coming out of retirement; he just really likes doing tedious paperwork nobody else can stand. When he gets his Notary Public license he's giddy about it for months.
  • Kavorka Man: Sort of. His wife is absolutely stunning and completely adores him, despite him being old, overweight and unattractive, but otherwise all other women are just as openly disgusted by him as men are. He's even the one person who Mona Lisa Saperstein wouldn't have sex with, giving him a "hard pass".
  • The Klutz: At the office and in public, but not in his home. His favorite ice cream place always scoops him a second cone for when he drops the first one.
  • Leap Day: His birthday, naturally.
  • Nice Guy: Despite being constantly dumped on by his coworkers and by the universe in general, Jerry doesn't have a mean-spirited bone in his body.
  • Oblivious Adoption: Had no idea he was adopted until Mark looked up his background and mentioned that his adoptive mother had been arrested for marijuana possession. Jerry just said he didn't know he was adopted.
  • Odd Friendship: With Donna. They know each other well enough to win Tom's "Know Your Boo" game show attempt, and she cares about him enough to make sure that at her wedding, he'll be known by his real name, Garry.
  • Older Than They Look/Younger Than They Look: Oddly combined in that Jerry is supposed to be sixty-four as of the fourth season (the episode "Sweet Sixteen" discusses his Leap Day birthday), and of course has a lot of Informed Flaw in terms of his appearance, but when that episode aired, Jim O'Heir was only fifty. In fact, he's eight years younger than Christie Brinkley, who was cast as Jerry's wife.
  • Phrase Catcher: "Dammit, Jerry!"
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Along with Donna, after Chris and Ann left.
  • The Scapegoat: Everything is always Jerry's fault, whether it actually is or not.
  • Self-Deprecation:
    • In "Jerry's Painting", he tells Leslie that allowing the painting to be destroyed is something he would do, and that he didn't expect her to give in.
    • A comedic example in "The Bubble": Chris says he believes Jerry is capable of so much more. Jerry's immediate reply is a flat "I'm not."
  • Technologically Blind Elders: His way of getting to his Yahoo email is to go on Altavista and type “please take me to” and has no clue what bookmarks are.
  • 10-Minute Retirement: Retires at the end of the fifth season, but is brought back part-time of the end of the same episode. He returns to the Parks Department full-time in the sixth season. And just when he's set to retire again towards the end of season 7, he is appointed the interim mayor of Pawnee, is elected to the post, and remains mayor until his death at the age of 100. Jerry/Larry/Terry/Garry just can't get a break, can he?
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Gets three pretty significant ones in season 7:
    • In "Donna & Joe" Donna labels Garry's dining place with his real name, thereby ensuring his co-workers will now address him by that name, albeit in a mocking way. He's thrilled about this development.
    • And then in "Two Funerals" Ben appoints Garry Interim Mayor of Pawnee after the incumbent Mayor dies two months before his term is up, complete with a completely over the top inauguration ceremony, where Garry is carried to a hot-air balloon by a Roman legion and then flies away.
    • In "One Last Ride", Garry is then elected mayor of Pawnee for real, and then proceeds to fill the office for the rest of his life, adored by his large family and loved by the people of Pawnee. Even his death is unbelievably heartwarming: He dies peacefully in his sleep, holding the hand of his beloved Gayle (who looks AMAZING).
  • Too Spicy for Yog Sothoth: Jerry is the only person Mona-Lisa Saperstein showed no interest in sleeping with.
  • True Love Is Exceptional: Played for Laughs when he reveals that his utterly gorgeous wife Gayle didn't physically appeal to him at first.
    Garry: I met Gayle right here at Sherm's [ice cream shop]. She was slim, blonde hair, big breasts, long legs. Ugh, not my type at all.
  • The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: His three girls.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: His wife Gayle is played by Christie Brinkley.

    Donna Meagle 

Donna Meagle (Retta Sirleaf)
"We're not big on hospitality. The Meagles are a cold people."

A Sassy Black Woman who is office manager for the Parks Department. Donna has expensive tastes as she apparently comes from a wealthy family (R&B singer Ginuwine is her cousin, as revealed in "Sweet Sixteen"). Her most prized possession is her Mercedes-Benz M-Class SUV, which you better not mess with if you know what's good for you. She Really Gets Around and has had a variety of weird sexual exploits, which we mostly hear about in Noodle Incident format. She eventually settles down and gets married in the final season.

  • Aerith and Bob: Her brothers LeVondrias and George.
  • Berserk Button: Do not touch her Mercedes.
  • Big Beautiful Woman: Donna is the most rotund character (next to Jerry) and it doesn't do any harm to her ability to attract men, as she regularly hints at an active and very varied sex life. Andy's "codename" for her is "It Happened Once In a Dream".
  • Character Development: Her relationships with members of the main cast grow deeper as the show goes on, particularly after Chris and Ann leave and Donna is given a bit more focus.
  • Cool Car: She's very proud of her Mercedes, which she has named "Michael Fassbender".
  • Deadpan Snarker
  • Dysfunctional Family: Comes from the passive-aggressive grudge holder variety. Donna lists off several examples; the last few Meagle family Pictionary tournaments all ended at the hospital and apparently no more than 3 Meagles are allowed on an international plane together. Donna is herself estranged from her younger brother LeVondrias due to an incident involving microwaved popcorn and he was not invited to her wedding. Until April brought him anyway.
  • The Fashionista: She and Tom get along well.
  • Five Temperament Ensemble: Choleric
  • Happily Married: With former boyfriend Joe in the final season.
  • Hidden Depths: Although she looks like an average office worker, Donna is very cultured, well-traveled, and sophisticated, and a trained opera singer, as is Retta.
    • Subverted for laughs in the episode "The Camel." Leslie assumes that Donna has a secret artistic streak because of her beautiful and elaborate manicures. Donna is quick to correct Leslie: she gets her nails done professionally.
  • I Call It "Vera": One episode reveals that she has named her Mercedes "Michael Fassbender" because "they're both German and they're both sexy as hell".
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Not jerky to the same extent as April, but she does come across as aloof and selfish. However, when she sees that someone needs help or the group is acting mean (usually to Jerry), she'll immediately do the right thing.
  • Odd Friendship: With Jerry. They know each other well enough to win Tom's "Know Your Boo" game show attempt, and she cares about him enough to make sure that at her wedding, he'll be known by his real name, Garry. She also develops one with April in the later seasons, to the point of appointing April as her Maid of Honor.
  • Pet the Dog: She brings Ben to her annual "Treat Yo' Self" day with Tom, when she sees him eating soup by himself on a park bench. And at her wedding, she marks Jerry's spot on the table with his actual name Garry.
  • Phoneaholic Teenager: A decidedly adult version of this, Donna is frequently seen on her phone during office hours and plots about her are often about social media (e.g. live-tweeting a Death Canoe movie in "Halloween Surprise" and her account being the subject of a political witch-hunt in "Gin It Up!").
  • The Precious, Precious Car: Again, her Mercedes.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Along with Jerry, after Chris and Ann left.
  • Really Gets Around: Until she settles down with Joe.
  • Sassy Black Woman
    • Ironically enough, her actress' Twitter bio specifically says "Don't call me sassy."
  • Sherlock Scan: She's actually pretty observant, as she could tell Ann was pregnant just from knowing her mannerisms, even accurately figuring out how far along she is. Then she asks Chris when he changed his underwear.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: After some resistance due to difference in lifestyle, she gets together with Joe, an almost inhumanly-nice music teacher.

    Mark Brendanawicz 

Mark Brendanawicz (Paul Schneider)
"I hit rock bottom that night. I mean I literally fell to the bottom of a pit and hit a rock. I remember laying there thinking, 'There’s probably a good reason why I'm down here.' And then I remember thinking, 'I need morphine.'"

A city planner. Straight Man caught in a Love Triangle between Leslie and Ann. He started off the series as a Handsome Lech, but this was quickly dropped and he spent most of his time on the show being a Ladykiller in Love. He was Put on a Bus when he joins a private company at the end of Season 2.

  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Non-villainous example. Some years prior to the first season, Mark and Leslie slept together once. This was a very important event in Leslie's life and she imagines their working relationship has been filled with Unresolved Sexual Tension since. Mark sleeps with so many women that he barely even remembers it.
  • The Casanova: In the first season. He later dropped this when he and Ann began dating in the second season, and actually was a faithful boyfriend.
  • Character Development: In the second season, he began a steady relationship with Ann and remained faithful to her. At Valentine's Day, he (admittedly) gives her every clichéd Valentine's Day gift he can think of because it's the first time he's been able to give someone such a gift. In the first episode of season 2 Ann notes that his personality seems to have shifted overnight after he suffered a head injury at the end of season 1.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Leukine
  • The Generic Guy: For two seasons, he stood in the middle of a cast of more interesting characters and acted sane. Obviously, a Straight Man is supposed to do that, but unlike other characters who have fulfilled this role on the show (such as Ben), Mark lacked any quirks that allowed the character to take part in the shenanigans. It's Lampshaded when Ann admits that while Mark is very stable and "safe", he's also rather bland, and states that her relationship with Andy may have been unhealthy but at least it was interesting.
  • Ladykiller in Love: How his Character Development happened.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Hit on Ann before she actually broke up with Andy, and then fell into the Pit behind Ann's house later that night, just as Andy had done to inaugurate the series.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: In "Practice Date", he eagerly joins in with a game in which the department decide to dig up dirt on one another, but accidentally reveals to Jerry that he was adopted. At this point he feels he's gone too far and backs out entirely.
  • Perma-Stubble: He doesn't grow out a beard.
  • Put on a Bus: At the end of Season 2, Ann breaks up with him and he leaves the government to work for a construction company after Pawnee is declared bankrupt.
    • Long Bus Trip: Mark was intended to be an occasional Drop-In Character in the subsequent seasons, but due to Paul Schneider's lack of desire to return and the writers focusing on other stories, this was the result.
  • Unperson: Despite his prominence early on, later seasons avoid all references to him. It becomes very notable when he is the only past boyfriend of Ann's to not be referenced when she assembles her "ex-boyfriend boxes".
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Mark was never mentioned following his change in employment, even when it would make sense for him to be mentioned. For example, Leslie and Ben struggle to find an architect for the Lot 48 park in "Pawnee Commons", apparently forgetting that Mark had already drawn up plans for the park and given them to Leslie in his last episode. Even more notably, in "Halloween Surprise", Ann assembles several boxes full of items, clothes, and hobbies she picked up while dating various characters in the show to be sold for charity. She has boxes for every romantic interest she's had except for Mark[[note]]Although this actually does kind of make sense; he had no personality quirks for her to pick up..

Supporting Characters

    Related/Married to Main Characters 

Marlene Griggs-Knope (Pamela Reed)

Leslie's mother and "a big mucky-muck in the county school system". Has shades of Meddling Parent and 'Well Done, Daughter' Girl. Leslie's father has been dead since she was ten years old, which was first implied in a throwaway line explaining that 'he lives in Florida, in a cemetery' and later made explicit in the fifth season.

Tamara "Tammy" Swanson (Paula Pell)

Ron's mother, aka "Tammy Zero". Even more reclusive than her son, and a gun nut.

Tammy Swanson "One" (Patricia Clarkson)

Ron's first wife. Makes her first appearance as the back of a head in the Season 3 finale, which is enough for Tammy Two and Ron to drop everything and head for the hills. She works for the IRS. Her influence can turn Ron into a dorky, pro-government Henpecked Husband.

Tammy Swanson "Two" (Megan Mullally)

The second of Ron's evil ex-wives. Not only is she also named Tammy, so is Ron's mother. This Tammy is a Vampy Manipulative Bitch and the deputy director of the Library Department, the Sitcom Arch-Nemesis of the Parks Department. Her influence can turn Ron into a pliable sex freak.

Diane Elizabeth Lewis (Lucy Lawless)

Ron's girlfriend in season five. She is a middle-school vice principal with two young daughters named Ivy (Rylan Lee) and Zoey (Sadie Salazar). According to Leslie and Ron himself, she is perfect for Ron. They are married at the start of Season 6.

  • Absentee Actor: Doesn't appear in season 7 at all. There's plenty of dialogue reminding viewers that she exists and is still Happily Married to Ron, however.
  • Birds of a Feather: With Ron.
  • Happily Married: To Ron as of Season 6.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Lucy Lawless does a decent American accent, but sometimes those Kiwi vowels sneak in.
  • Troll: When she married Ron, she stated her middle name was Tammy just to screw with him, before revealing it's actually Elizabeth.
  • Out of Focus: While it's confirmed by some dialogue that she and Ron are still married, Diane doesn't show up on the final season. Especially noticeable because Ron makes some important life decisions and their relationship was always portrayed as healthy enough for them to make those sorts of choices together.
  • The Stoic: She's not emotionless, but is overall cool-headed and reasonable, which makes her deal well with Ron's quirks.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Twice towards Ron.
    • When Ron misguidedly breaks one of her daughters' tiaras in two so they can share.
    • When Ron tries to get off the grid, she gives him a gentle one of these, pointing out that while she's okay with his privacy, he needs to be available to his family.

Wendy Haverford (Jama Williamson)

Tom's wife at the start of the series. She is Canadian and married him to stay in the country, resulting in the Irony of an interracial Citizenship Marriage where it's the white partner who is trying to avoid being deported from America. They split up during the second season, in an episode appropriately titled "Tom's Divorce". Ron dated her for a while before she moved back to Canada near the start of the third season.

Gayle Gergich (Christie Brinkley)

Garry's loving and unreasonably hot wife.

Millicent Gergich (Sarah Wright)

Garry's oldest daughter. She's an athletic sort and dates Chris for some time.

  • Birds of a Feather: She likes guys who share similar interests as her.
  • Daddy's Girl: Other than her seeming obliviousness to her father's discomfort with her dating Chris (who is technically his boss, and had a bad tendency to go into Too Much Information territory regarding their relationship), she's close to Garry and adores him very much.
  • Has a Type: Chris and her later fiance Carl are both handsome and chiseled athletic types.
  • Passionate Sports Girl: Can outrun Chris in a jog, and served as a camp counselor at a teen sport camp (where she met her fiance).
  • The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: She and her two sisters are incredibly beautiful.

Joe (Keegan-Michael Key)

A teacher whom Donna begins dating in the sixth season. They get married in season 7's aptly-titled "Donna & Joe".

Lucy (Natalie Morales)

A bartender Tom dates Season 2. They reconnect in season 7, getting engaged in the penultimate episode and are implied to be married in the Distant Finale.

The Ludgates

April's family, consisting of father Larry, mother Rita, and sister Natalie.

  • Alliterative Name: Larry Ludgate.
  • Emotionless Girl: Natalie is just as snarky as April and as much of a troll.
  • Fangirl: Rita owns all of Duke Silver's albums (although curiously, while her daughter recognized Ron was Duke as soon as she met him, Rita herself didn't see it).
  • Good Parents: While we don't see much of them, Larry and Rita do come across as loving and sweet.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: April and Natalie frequently pull pranks on each other.
  • Open Minded Parents: A deleted scene from "April and Andy's Fancy Party" shows that Larry and Rita are completely okay with April marrying Andy so soon after she began dating him. Apparently it helps that Andy's actually straight unlike Derek, and isn't a weirdo like Orin.

The Meagles

Donna's family, the most passive-aggressive group of people that ever lived. Includes Donna's brothers, George and LeVondrias, and her cousin, the singer Ginuwine.

  • Dysfunctional Family: To the point that no more than three Meagles are allowed on an international flight together. During Donna's wedding, April's job is to stop the family from causing any trouble. She ends up rounding up all the "troublemakers" in the kitchen and putting the fear of God into them. (And making Ginuwine cry in the process.)
  • Passive-Aggressive Kombat: All the time.

    Government Employees 

Ethel Beavers (Helen Slayton-Hughes)

A very old woman who works in the dreaded fourth floor of City Hall and is also court stenographer. In "Two Funerals" we find out she had an affair with the late Mayor Gunderson who had an open marriage with his wife.

Jeremy Jamm (Jon Glaser)

City councilman, orthodontist and Jerkass extraordinaire who generally opposes everything Leslie does on principle. As time goes on, it becomes clear that he's also a lonely and pathetic man who desperately needs a friend.

  • Alliterative Name: Jeremy Jamm.
  • Break the Haughty: While dating Tammy Two. Her attempts to turn him into a clone of Ron turns him into a hollow shell of a man.
  • Catch-Phrase: "You just got Jammed!"
  • Cool Car: He's very proud of his red Corvette.
    Jamm: I once got an Asian girl to sit in it!
  • Empty Shell: Tammy 2 turned him into this while they were dating. Jamm ends up so depressed and broken that Leslie and Ron, who hate Jamm, felt morally obligated to put their vendetta at the time aside and help him get out of the relationship.
  • Establishing Character Moment: He's introduced by having Leslie walking in on him in the private bathroom attached to her councilman office. He then refuses to take "no" for an answer when she tries to prevent this from continuing into the future.
  • Hate Sink: He exists largely so Leslie can have an annoying enemy on the council.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: It's very telling that, when Leslie needed his support on an issue, the hoops he forced her to jump through were having breakfast with him and singing karaoke with him. He also calls Leslie and Ron his two best friends in the world, even though neither of them can stand him.
  • Jerkass: Especially to Leslie, even though he considers her a friend.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Tries to obstruct anything Leslie does on principle.
  • Occidental Otaku: His collection of Japanese memorabilia suggests this. He even owns a teppanyaki grill.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: One of the most regular antagonists and he makes no attempts to be politically correct. Ever.
    • However, even he squirms under Ken Hotate.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: One of Leslie's many, and her most prominent in Seasons 5 and 6.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: In the series finale, while he's still a bit of jerk, he does do some kind gestures for Leslie, including giving her a painting of them posing like John Lennon and Yoko Ono as a parting gift.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Oddly, he genuinely considers Leslie to be his best friend, and presumably sees their relationship as friendly sniping. Leslie doesn't return the sentiment, at all.

Bill Dexhart (Kevin Symons)

City councilman. An incredibly Sleazy Politician who is usually involved in some kind of sex scandal.

  • Anything That Moves: Whenever a sex scandal comes up, expect it to involve multiple people of any gender identification, age, profession, etc.
  • Corrupt Politician: A sexual deviant who will do anything to win and stays in office due to a combination of living in the worst district in town and playing incredibly dirty.
  • Double Standard: Enjoys the benefits of this. Whenever a sex scandal crops up, it's the women around him who get lambasted rather than Dexhart himself, such as his wife for staying with him despite his many infidelities, or suspected mistress Leslie Knope for "throwing herself at him."
  • Jerkass: He stays in office despite his many sex scandals only because he runs scorched-earth negative campaigns to make his opponents look even worse than he.
  • Kavorka Man: His sexual exploits are genuinely impressive, if only because he's not notably attractive but manages to bed a ridiculous number of women.
  • Running Gag: Whenever Dexhart is mentioned, he's usually at the center of another sex scandal.

Fielding Milton (James Greene)

City councilman since 1948. Mostly a source of Racist Grandpa jokes.

  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Not necessarily an out-and-out villain, but he's a noted racist and sexist who regularly tries to down-talk Leslie.
  • Racist Grandpa: As noted above. He originally ran for office on a promise to re-segregate baseball.
  • Senior Sleep Cycle: Often dozes during meetings. In fact, many jokes are made about him being older than dirt.

Douglass Howser (Yvans Jourdain)

City councilman. Seems to be a Straight Man. A Running Gag involves Leslie running into him in awkward situations and her using the opportunity to try and talk about some issue.

  • Bald Black Leader Guy: He seems to be the City Council's president/chairman/whatever (he sits in the middle and his chair is on a raised platform). He is also bald and black.
  • Only Sane Man: On the city council. You've got overzealous Leslie, sleazy Jamm, sex-scandal-prone Dexhart, Racist Grandpa Milton, and then Howser, whose only quirk is a propensity to keep running into Leslie at inconvenient times.
  • Shout-Out: One wonders if he's a doctor.

Ingrid de Forest (Kristen Bell)

A resident of the former Eagleton and Leslie's replacement on the city council.

  • Anti-Villain: Runs against Leslie purely in her hometown's interest.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Quite mean at first, but later shows herself to be a great politician who honestly cares about the former Eagletonians.
  • Worthy Opponent: Considers Leslie as this after running against her.

Dave Sanderson (Louis C.K.)

Leslie's boyfriend in Season 2. A bumbling cop. Their relationship is cut short due to Dave joining the Army Reserve and moving to San Diego, but he comes back in Season 4's "Dave Returns" and awkwardly interacts with Ben.

  • Malaproper: Frequently.
  • Nice Guy: He's a pleasant, if bumbling man.
  • Put on a Bus: Has to move to San Diego in Season 2 to fulfill his obligation to the Army Reserve.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: When he's seen again in season 4, he's a good deal more unhinged than when he departed in season 2, still hung up over his feelings for Leslie, expecting her to return them, and even going so far as to handcuff Ben to a urinal in the restaurant they were all in.
  • Verbal Tic: Speaks in very blunt, straightforward sentences.

Craig Middlebrooks (Billy Eichner)

The Camp Gay former office manager of Eagleton's Parks Department who transferred to the Pawnee department when the two towns merged. Has No Indoor Voice and prone to Comical Overreacting.

  • Ambiguously Gay: For his first season on the show. He acts incredibly camp, and has stereotypically gay interests and mannerisms, but never shows interest in men until the seventh season.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: He's prone to overreacting to everything, acts campy and his intensity manages to even unnerve Leslie for a bit. However, he's also very competent at his job, eventually taking over Ron's position in the Parks Department.
  • Camp Gay: Confirmed to be at least interested in men in season seven, getting married to Typhoon in the Distant Finale.
  • Comical Overreacting: He will do this over anything.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Even when he's not in stressful situations, he's still easily set off. In the final season, he learns to get a better handle on it thanks to going through some therapy.
  • Happily Married: Ties the knot with Typhoon in the series finale and a flash forward shows them growing old together.
  • It's All About Me: Reacted to the news of Leslie's pregnancy by ranting about how every time he accomplishes something, someone else always upstages him, like when his cousin died on the opening night of his one-man show.
  • No Indoor Voice: Craig has a seeming inability to use an indoor voice.
    • After the Time Skip between Season 6 and 7, he's learned to control it. His therapist (Dr. Richard Nygard) advised him to "take a deep breath and say three great things about being alive" whenever he feels the need to yell.
  • Sixth Ranger: The only member of the Eagleton Parks and Rec department to become a full-fledged member of the combined Parks Department. Eventually, he even takes over as director.

Brett Hull and Harris Wittels (Colton Dunn and Harris Wittels)

Two stoned morons who work at Pawnee Animal Control and are the major reason for its massive incompetence in catching animals. They are fired in Season 5 and later end up squatting in the basement of City Hall.

  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Due to being high in all of their appearances.
  • Comically Missing the Point: They join the "Recall Leslie Knope" rally, thinking it's a rally to legalize marijuana.
  • Insult Backfire: When Leslie describes the animal control department as being run by two moronic stoners, Harris thinks it's a compliment.
  • Lethally Stupid: When Leslie ordered Brett to pretend to kill every bird in Pawnee for the avian flue crisis simulation, Brett doesn't get the "pretend" part, and keeps asking Leslie how she wants the birds killed.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: When Ron, April and Andy find them in the City Hall basement they say they certainly aren't living there.
  • The Stoners/Stoners Are Funny: They're high all the time.
  • Those Two Guys/Heterosexual Life-Partners: Even (accidentally) show up to a job interview together.
  • Too Dumb to Live: They got fired because they left a coyote trap around since they had a huge pest problem, and tried to reach Animal Control about it but no one would pick it up. As Leslie pointed out, they were the people they'd call about it.

Mayor Walter Gunderson (Bill Murray)

The invisible mayor of Pawnee. Ends up dying two months before his term is up in the seventh season episode appropriately titled "Two Funerals".

  • The Cameo: In "Two Funerals", he appears as a corpse.
  • The Ghost: Mentioned frequently before "Two Funerals," but never shown. Of course, by the time we see him, he's dead, so this entry works on two levels.
  • Secret Relationship: With Ethel Beavers. Apparently Gunderson's wife knew and was completely okay with it.

Kyle (Andy Forrest)

A regular at Andy's shoe shine stand and an attorney for City Hall, he is the lowest on the City Hall pecking chain. Even Jerry treats him like garbage.

  • Butt-Monkey: Only Chris is actually nice to him.
  • The Chew Toy: Unlike Jerry, there is no good nature to the ribbing, and no silver linings in his life.
  • Extreme Doormat
  • Occidental Otaku: Subverted: he is characterized as this once by the others, even though all he was doing was eating rice.
  • Old Windbag: His stories inspire either this or inappropriate laughter.

    Pawnee Media 

Joan Callamezzo (Mo Collins)

The vapid host of Pawnee Today, a talk show frequented by the main characters. She likes Tom due to his flattery, but seemingly has a vendetta against Leslie. She’s oddly arrogant for a local media personality.

  • Cloud Cuckoolander: While never a paragon of stability during the series, she entirely lost her mind during the Time Skip between Seasons 6 and 7. Highlights include calling all her ex-boyfriends while sitting on a washing machine on-air, having her audience fight over a car, and believing she's in Gotham City in the middle of a speech.
  • Jerkass: Rarely kind to anyone, as she thinks she's above most people.
  • Kent Brockman News: She's an insufferable Jerkass and has no shame in hiding it whenever she's on air.
  • Lady Drunk: She's almost always inebriated, even on air.
  • Narcissist: To an absurd degree - she has huge oil paintings of herself in the nude in her house, for example. The only people she doesn't constantly belittle are suck ups who praise everything she does.
  • Not So Above It All: As snobby and superficial as she is, she still goes just as crazy as everyone else in Pawnee does over Li'l Sebastian.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: One of Leslie's first. She seems to relish taking her down.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: A local talk show host who seems to think she's Oprah.

Shauna Mulwae-Tweep (Alison Becker)

Intrepid Reporter for the local paper. Usually, the Parks Department gives her access in the hope that she'll report something positively for them, but hijinks ensue and her story ends up with a negative, sensationalistic slant. In Season 5, Chris has a short-lived and ambiguously romantic relationship with her.

  • Anti-Villain: Yes, she causes problems for the department, but she's simply doing her job.
  • Hot Scoop: She's a very cute, feminine reporter.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Well, about as intrepid as one can be in Pawnee. If there's a story, Shauna's on it.
  • Nice Girl: She's a sweet, well-meaning lady that doesn't seem to have any contempt for anybody.
  • Romantic False Lead: Her usual role involves her becoming friendly with a male character, making the girl he eventually winds up with jealous by accident. This happened with Andy, Ben, and Chris in that order.
  • Romantic Runner-Up: As a perpetual Romantic False Lead, she winds up as this frequently. She even lampshades this ("I can't even land the shoeshine boy!").
    • It gets deconstructed later on, as it's shown she's pretty miserable because of this.
  • Stepford Smiler: Revealed to be this in "Galentine's Day 2", where she tries to stay positive to ignore the painful parts of her personal life. Leslie can't help but pity her a little.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: In the distant finale, where after she's left at the alter by her fiancee, she later crosses paths with Bobby Newport and ends up marrying him.

Perderick "Perd" Hapley (Jay Jackson)

Host of Ya' Heard? with Perd. Tends to speak redundantly, in sentences, which repeat their meaning.

  • Acrofatic: Can do the Worm.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: In his more competent moments, he can show some skill at hosting a show, and is clearly likable enough to cultivate a local following.
  • Captain Obvious: Because of his redundant nature, most of his statements are quite obvious in addition to being redundant in nature.
    "Issue number one is the first issue we're going to talk about."
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Even if he isn't sure if there are real cuckoos living in the clouds, his offbeat behavior would fit right in if there were. He has to ask if centaurs are real.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: His standout trait, which is quite notable.
  • The Ditz: While Pawnee is filled with them, he stands out as the most naive and idiotic media representative.
  • Fan Community Nick Name: He refers to his fans as Perd-verts.
  • The Fool: Has done quite well despite not being the smartest tool in Pawnee.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Loves making these with his name.
  • Kent Brockman News: Of the spacey, cuckoolander kind.
  • Literal-Minded: Is so tunnel-visioned with his questions and answers, jokes and sarcasm tend to escape his tunnel vision.
    Perd: "The lewd photo, how big of a deal is it?"
    Leslie: "Well, Perd, it's not that big a deal, if you know what I mean."
    Perd: "I don't know what you mean, but it had the cadence of a joke!"
  • Nice Guy: The nicest person in the Pawnee media. Any time he's caused trouble for Leslie, it hasn't been on purpose.
  • Pungeon Master: Always related to his name.
  • Sarcasm-Blind: Occasionally, due to being so literal minded.
  • Spin-Off: In-universe, he gets a new show, called Judge Perd, which often reminds the viewer, that Judge Perd is not a real judge.
  • Verbal Tic: Speaks in sentences that are somewhat redundant and repeat themselves, because of the redundancy of rephrasing everything he says in the sentences that he speaks.

Derry Murbles (Dan Castellaneta)

Host of a public radio show which plays terrible music. Leslie has been a guest on the show a couple of times.

  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Upon finding out that his target audience likes jazz music, he plays two jazz records simultaneously.
  • Dull Surprise: Even when he's angry he still keeps a very even tone.
  • Meaningful Name: "Murbles" sounds vaguely like "mumbles", and is also only one letter away from "marbles" — as in, "mouth full of marbles." Fitting name for a host who never raises his voice or inflicts any emotion into it.
  • The Stoic: He shows very little emotion, even when he's furious.
  • Take That!: He and his show seem to be a lighthearted jab at NPR and its soft-spoken hosts.

Crazy Ira and the Douche (Matt Besser and Nick Kroll)

Crazy Ira and Howard "The Douche" Tuttleman are two shock jocks of a morning zoo-style Pawnee radio program. They serve primarily as a parody of those types of radio shows, especially in a small-town market like Pawnee. The show prominently features fart jokes and Your Mom insults, as well as constant sound effects from their sound man "China Joe", who hates his job. Crazy Ira and The Douche are widely admired in Pawnee.

  • Alter-Ego Acting: Howard occasionally points out when he's speaking in character. "That's the Douche talking."
  • Becoming the Mask: Howard states that he mainly made up "The Douche" for the radio show, but it ended up becoming part of his personality for real.
  • Dumbass DJs: Played up for all its worth. Despite this, both are also shown to be very intelligent, even courteous.
  • Hidden Depths: Zig Zagged Trope. Will occasionally provide moments that show they are more mature than their on-air behavior suggests, only to follow it up by acting like they would on air.
    • The Douche in particular has a degree in communications from an Ivy League college and can be eloquent and smart when he wants to be.
  • Jerkass: The two are NOT the least bit likable.
  • No-Sell: In the companion book Pawnee: The Best Town in America, Jerry transcribed the two trying to prank Ron. Ron stonewalls them since their choice of disguises to bug him with are random citizens and other members of the government, both of which Ron avoids like the plague.
  • Only Known By His Nickname: Crazy Ira.
  • Pet the Dog: Surprisingly, The Douche genuinely adored his grandmother, considering her to be a strong, inspirational woman, and intends to name his first daughter after her.
  • Shock Jock: They're quite filthy on-air, and their sound guy is incredibly good at pulling up perfect perverted soundbites.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: They are two among many citizens in Pawnee who ruin things for Leslie on a regular basis.
  • Smarter Than You Look: Ironically, despite being Pawnee's resident Dumbass DJ duo, they regularly show themselves to be the most well-spoken and intelligent Pawnee media personalities.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Prone to suddenly slipping out of their Shock Jock personas in order to eloquently and effectively challenge their guest (generally Leslie), only to slip right back into it just as quickly.
  • Those Two Guys: Rarely seen apart, other than a brief stint where The Douche was considered to be a sperm donor for Ann.

    The Sapersteins 

Jean-Ralphio Saperstein (Ben Schwartz)

Tom's partner-in-crime who is (even more) slimy and obnoxious. He's hilarious just from his hairstyle. Outright hated by Ron and Donna.

  • Anything That Moves: Or, in his words, "I guess you could say I'm pretty open-minded."
  • Breakout Character: A fan favorite from his debut, which led to him making several more appearances as well as the introduction of his sister and father.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Even more so than Tom.
  • Conspicuous Consumption: In his own words, the only thing better than having money is making sure people know you have it.
  • Everyone Has Standards: He's the first person to admit how horrible Mona-Lisa is. And he's her brother.
  • Faking the Dead: At some point in the future, he fakes his death and plans to use the insurance payout to open a casino in Tajikistan.
  • Flat Character: Openly admits to the point of pride that he is exactly as vapid and shallow as he seems, and has no sort of Hidden Depths to speak of. Tom's development becomes more pronounced when put next to him as a result.
  • Graceful Loser: Whenever he loses a job or gets rejected in an interview, Jean-Ralphio simply acknowledges that it's the right decision.
    Employer: (after Jean-Ralphio's been employed for about thirty seconds) You're fired!
    Jean-Ralphio: Makes sense. So I just go out the same way I came in?
  • Idle Rich: Though he does try to get a job, he's not good at it. He's okay with it though.
  • Incoming Ham: Someone making a indirect comment about him without using his name directly will inevitably summon Jean-Ralphio.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He's definitely a slimeball, very self-centered, and incredibly obnoxious, but he's not really a bad guy. He actually does care about Tom, and admits his own shortcomings freely. He's just very spoiled, very overconfident, and comes on way too strong.
  • Large Ham: Constantly loud, if not outright yelling (or singing).
  • Replacement Flat Character: He embodies all of the negative traits Tom had before he got character development.
  • The Scrappy: In-universe. Nobody but Tom likes him, and even Tom starts to get annoyed with him later on.
  • Spoiled Brat: Calls his father "Daddy" and asks for money. Which he gets.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: To call him a bad influence on Tom would be an understatement.
  • Verbal Tic: Will occasionally rand-om-ly sing woorrrrds in his sen-ten-ceeees!
    • He's also weirdly incapable of making rhyming couplets, wherein he'll hit the intended rhyme, but ruin it by adding another word after it.
  • With Friends Like These...: Generally sees Tom as little more than an extra source of cash, though he does genuinely seem to like him.

Mona Lisa Saperstein (Jenny Slate)

Jean-Ralphio's "twin sister from the same mister" who he describes as (singing) "the worst person in the wooooorld" and also a "total klepto, nympho, and pyro". Tom hires her at his clothing rental business and ends up starting a relationship with her after attempting to discipline her results in a sexual encounter.

  • Ax-Crazy: Frequently breaks things and sets fires when she doesn't get her way, picks fights with people and is an all-around unstable person.
  • Anything That Moves: Is perfectly open to having a foursome with Tom, Craig (a total stranger), and her own brother. The one exception to this is Garry (unsurprisingly), whom she gives a "hard pass" to.
  • Cute and Psycho: She's cute, but along with being intolerable, she's a complete pyschopath.
  • Daddy's Girl: Like her brother, she blatantly lies to their father's face and whines to get money at the drop of a hat.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Is essentially a female Jean-Ralphio, except somehow even more obnoxious.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Tom dates her. Jean-Ralphio is her brother. Both of them admit that Mona Lisa is a horrible person.
  • Idle Rich: Gets her money from her father, and just fools around all day. For a time she was employed by Tom, but she was awful at it.
  • Jerkass: She is, in fact, the wooooooooooorst.
  • Jewish American Princess: She is very spoiled and Ambiguously Jewish, although she is not the least bit sexually repressed.
  • Kissing Cousins: She French-kissed her cousin once... and may still be in love with him. Tom is understandably disgusted.
  • Never My Fault: To quote her directly, "I have done nothing wrong, ever, in my life."
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Whereas Jean-Ralphio is a slimeball but otherwise harmless, Mona Lisa is a few paintings short of a Louvre. Case in point, her childishly asking for money while smashing up Ben's office is a hilarious and terrifying thing to watch.
  • Really Gets Around: She'll agree to anything with anyone. Except Jerry.
  • The Scrappy: She's this In-Universe. While Jean-Ralphio is at least liked by Tom, everyone hates Mona Lisa, including her brother, her father, and her boyfriend.
  • Spoiled Brat: Even more so than her brother.
  • Yandere: A clingy Mood-Swinger who will beat you up and trash your car (if not outright light it on fire) if you show any sign of not being into her.

Dr. Saperstein (Henry Winkler)

Jean-Ralphio and Mona Lisa's father. He finds his layabout offspring to be a huge disappointment.

  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Even while he's destroying their friend's life, Chris and Ann go to him for their pregnancy because he's that good.
  • The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: The last of the Sapersteins introduced is the patriarch of the family. Naturally you'd assume he'd somehow top Mona Lisa in obnoxiousness, but he actually reveals himself to be a halfway decent and relatively normal guy who is as annoyed by his kids as the rest of the cast is.
  • Meaningful Name: His name is almost identical to the Satanist OB-GYN, Dr. Sapirstein, in Rosemary's Baby.
  • My Girl Is Not a Slut: Is convinced Mona Lisa was a virgin before dating Tom; when he accuses Tom of stealing her virginity, everyone else in the room bursts into laughter at the idea.
  • Nice Guy: Zig-zagged. He's got fantastic rapport with his patients and complains about being interrupted while watching Saturday morning cartoons with his son; but he loathes Tom over his perceived mistreatment of Jean-Ralphio and Mona Lisa to the point that he doesn't even care when he finds out that his kids were lying, and he makes it very clear that he considers his children to be complete and utter disappointments that he wants to offload at the earliest opportunity (although let's face it, this is entirely justified of him).
  • Papa Wolf: Sets about destroying Tom's business because he believes Tom wronged Jean-Ralphio and Mona Lisa.
    • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: After finding out that his kids lied about Tom's actions, he decides to continue with the business because it's making money.
  • Pushover Parents: He has spoiled his kids utterly rotten and just throws money at them whenever they ask for it.
  • Serial Numbers Filed Off: In-universe, he opens a 'clothing rental store for teens' business just to run Tom's "Rent-a-Swag" out of business. It's so transparent that he even calls it "Tommy's Closet".
  • Sitcom Archnemesis: To Tom in Season 6.

    The Newports 

Nick Newport, Sr. (Christopher Murray)

Former CEO of Sweetums, a candy corporation which owns half the town. Dies at the end of Season 4.

Jessica Wicks (Susan Yeagley)

Nick Newport Sr.'s Gold Digger wife. Also a Rich Bitch. Current CEO.

Bobby Newport (Paul Rudd)

Leslie's opponent in the City Council race. A Manchild and Upper-Class Twit to the extreme, he's really only running to do something to make his father proud of him.

  • Brainless Beauty: Very attractive, despite his utter lack of intelligence.
  • Friendly Enemy: He's Leslie's opponent in the council race, but he's incredibly pleasant and friendly towards her regardless - if only because he's apparently too dim to be otherwise. Towards the end of the campaign he publicly endorses her, although he doesn't seem to realize the implications of that.
  • Idle Rich: Runs for City Council to cast off these accusations... which are incredibly true.
  • Lowest Common Denominator: In-Universe, he gets a lot of mileage in the campaign by spouting vaguely positive gibberish. It doesn't offend anybody because it doesn't mean anything.
  • Manchild: Unlike most examples where the character is just incredibly immature, Bobby has so little understanding of how the world works that he often reacts like a child would.
  • Nice Guy: He's actually very kind and generous, if only because he's too dumb to have a mean bone in his body.
  • Pair the Spares: Ends up married to Shauna Mulwae-Tweep in the distant finale.
  • Puppet King: He does little in the way to actually oppose Leslie, leaving all of his campaign decisions up to Jennifer. He even offers Leslie the chance to do the City Council work for him if she lets him win the seat.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Throws money at any problem he comes across.
  • Sheltered Aristocrat: He's had so little exposure to the world that he generally acts more like a curious four year old than he does a man pushing forty.
  • Spoiled Sweet: Raised in wealth, and an incredibly nice guy.
  • Upper-Class Twit
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: The whole reason he ran for city council.

Nick Newport, Jr. (Gary Weeks)

Current CEO of Sweetums in season two (until Jessica Wicks replaced him). Father of Denver (Ryan Hartwig) and Dakota (Harley Graham). As of season four, he seems to have been Retconned out of existence.

  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Apparently quietly retconned out of existence.
    • Or possibly the implication is that "Nick Newport, Jr." never existed, and the person we saw was an actor hired to play the part for marketing purposes, which would make sense given that Nick Newport's actual son, Bobby Newport, is a dimwitted man-child without a photogenically perfect family.

    Other Pawnee Residents 

Marcia and Marshall Langman (Darlene Hunt and Todd Sherry)

"There are girls quivering. There are boys staring deeply into girls' eyes as they quiver and so forth. There really is a tremendous amount of quivering. It is anti-Christian. It is pro-quivering."
—Marcia, on Twilight. Which was written by a Mormon.

Marcia is the first of the two to be introduced, and is an uptight and humorless right-wing Christian activist offended by everything. Often uses Insane Troll Logic. The episode "Sex Education" introduces her husband Marshall Langman, who shares her views. (They're probably based on Michelle and Marcus Bachmann.)

Ken Hotate (Jonathan Joss)

"There are two things I know about white people: they love Matchbox 20, and they are terrified of curses."

The Chief of the local Wamapoke tribe. He enjoys inducing White Guilt at every possible opportunity. Leslie was at one point his favorite target, but eventually they jointly figure out ways to weaponize that against some of the nastier people in Pawnee.

  • The Barnum: Considers his casino the best way to get back everything Pawneeans stole from the Wamapoke, one quarter at a time.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Usually at Leslie, but other people have been on the receiving end of his snark, too.
  • The Gadfly: Milks every possible ounce of enjoyment out of watching white Pawneeans squirm and messing with their heads.
    Ann: Mr. Hotate, thanks for coming. Would you like some water?
    Ken: Water? Like fire water? That's racist, and I do not appreciate it.
    Ann: No-no-no-no-no, I didn't mean it like that. I just meant, you know—
    Ken: I'm just messing with you.
    Ann: Oh my God.
    Leslie: He's funny. This guy's funny. He does that sometimes.
    Ken: But seriously, I'll have a whiskey.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Inverted, in this case - Ken Hotate is basically John Redcorn from King of the Hill without the womanizer angle. Both are played by Jonathan Joss.
  • It Amused Me: When he's not trolling white people to get his way, he's just doing it for his own amusement.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He's definitely a Troll and is fully willing to exploit White Guilt to get what he wants, but Ken's not a bad guy, and is more than happy to team up with Leslie to take down genuinely nasty characters (i.e., Jamm and Pinewood).
  • Political Correctness Gone Mad: Exploited and parodied. He knows white people are awkward around Native Americans and uses their White Guilt to get his way.
  • White Guilt: For both fun and profit, he milks the guilt of most other characters.

Dr. Harris (Cooper Thornton)

A doctor and a coworker of Ann's at the local hospital. An incredibly Deadpan Snarker with a terrible bedside manner.

  • Comically Inept Healing: Normally quite competent, but every now and then can be shockingly negligent, such as when he fails to check Jerry for mumps.
  • Comically Serious
  • Deadpan Snarker
  • Distracted by the Sexy: While not finding it sexy or arousing, he is fascinated by the size of Jerry's penis.
  • Dr. Jerk: His bedside manner is pretty awful and he doesn't like it when patients ask too many questions. He gets along quite well with Ron as a result.

Li'l Sebastian

A miniature horse that did... something that has endeared him to the residents of Pawnee.

  • Back from the Dead: He appears to Leslie and Ben as a sign they should get married. It's actually a licensed impersonator (imhorseinator?), and his handler tries to tell that to Leslie, but she doesn't care.
  • Gag Penis: Even when pixilated out, it's played for laughs.
  • Killed Off for Real: Dies at the end of the third season, and is given a city-funded hero's funeral. Ron takes his death particularly hard:
    Ron: When I walked in this morning and saw the flag was at half-mast, I thought 'all right — another bureaucrat ate it.' But then, I found out it was Li'l Sebastian. Half-mast is too high. Show some damned respect.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Naturally, being a miniature horse (not a pony, they're different things). "The Trial of Leslie Knope" shows he has a line of plushies for sale.
  • Serious Business: Everyone in Pawnee adores him. Outsiders don't really get it, which is a Berserk Button for Pawneeans.

Wyatt "Burly" Burlinson (Andrew Burlinson)

Guitarist and backing vocalist (later co-lead) for Mouse Rat.

Brandi Maxxxx (Mara Marini)

Local Pawnee Porn star who also ran for City Council against Leslie Knope and Bobby Newport. Admires Leslie and played her in Too Big to Nail, an adult movie about Leslie saving the Pawnee Videodome.

  • Abhorrent Admirer: For Leslie. She also, at one point during a political debate, said she'd sleep with every one of her opponents.
  • Bi the Way: She has no problem casually talking about how she's slept with many men and women. She's either this or gay-for-pay.
  • Hidden Depths: She does run for political office at one point. In the Distant Finale, she actually does become city council president. Her run is possibly a nod to porn star Mary Carey's publicity stunt campaign for governor of California in the 2003 recall election.
  • Nice Girl: She actually seems to be pretty nice and friendly, if a little overly so.
  • Not So Different: How she sees herself and Leslie, though the latter very much disagreed.
    • Considering the insane number of adult films Brandi has starred in, she may very well have a work ethic to rival Leslie's.
  • Porn Names: The excessive number of X's in her name for starters.
  • Running Gag: Repeatedly compares Leslie's work in the Parks Department to her work as a porn star, much to Leslie's disagreement and horror.
  • Too Much Information: Her comments about her career are usually irrelevant to the discussion, and unwanted by Leslie.
  • Unwanted Assistance: Every time she tries to help out Leslie, Leslie wants no part of it.

Orin (Eric Isenhower)

Orin is April's very quiet, very creepy friend. He seldom speaks and often stares at people and makes them feel uncomfortable. Everybody except April dislikes him, with Leslie even outwardly insulting him. He once had a performance art show, where he was an animal living on a human farm.

  • Anvilicious: Invoked. He's not especially subtle. At the previously mentioned farm art show:
    Orin: (in a sheep costume) Moo... moo...
    Leslie: Shut up, Orin. Aren't you supposed to be a sheep?
    Orin: No. You are.
  • Butt-Monkey: He's an even bigger one than Jerry. He creeps everyone out so much that they all talk bad about him. Leslie especially, who will yell at him and insult him directly, and advises April to stay away from him.
  • Creepy Crossdresser: When he dresses up as April's mother in "Prom".
  • Creepy Shadowed Undereyes
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette
  • Goth
  • The Stoic: The only times Orin showed any emotion was when he's scared by Chris' brand of intense positivity and smiling at Chris' depressing music mix.

Dennis Feinstein (Jason Mantzoukas)

A perfume mogul who lives in Pawnee.

  • Atrocious Alias: Ben doesn't get why he chose the name Dennis Feinstein, and thinks it was a bad change.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: His real name is Dante Fiero, but he changed it to Dennis Feinstein because sounding Jewish is more exotic in Pawnee. Tom approves.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: He just wants to earn as much money as possible, anything else is completely inconsequential.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: Alludes to having done this on a vacation and tries to hire Tom to be his next target.
  • Jerkass: Makes every other jerk on this show look like a sweet pussycat.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: He brags about paying $25,000 to hunt a man on a vacation.

Barney Varmn (John Balma)

An accountant who is employed at the Tilton & Radomski firm, he is first introduced when Leslie hires him for an accounting presentation to lighten up her party. It doesn't work.

  • Abhorrent Admirer: A male, non-romantic example for Ben.
  • Butt-Monkey: Is never able to get Ben to stick around at the jobs he hires him for and treated as weird and/or a bore by other characters.
  • Hero-Worshipper: Seems to view Ben of all people as one of the coolest men alive. Of course, compared to Barney and most of his other colleagues and friends, Ben's a rock star, but still.
  • Incredibly Lame Fun: Often needlessly excited by his accounting job, bursts into fits at Ben's admittedly mediocre accounting puns and enjoys Cones of Dunshire.
  • Running Gag: Hires Ben for various jobs, only to be crushed when he quits a few days later.

Trevor Nelsson (Marc Evan Jackson)

A high-priced Pawnee lawyer who works for many of Pawnee's wealthier families, namely the Newports and the Sapersteins.

Kathryn Pinewood (Mary Faber)

Head of the Pawnee Restaurant Association, she fights for "consumer rights" in generally the worst ways possible. She heads the fight to get Leslie recalled from office.

     Other Characters 

Jennifer Barkley (Kathryn Hahn)

A straight-forward, fierce Washington political strategist who is first introduced in Season 4 to run Bobby Newport's campaign for City Council.

  • The Ace: Intelligent, confident, reads international newspapers, is a big political muckety-muck in Washington. She ran two Republican congressional campaigns, a Senate race and gave Leslie and Ben a real run for their money when she opposed them in the City Council election.
  • Career Versus Family: Not a problem with her. The trope is defied because she is completely satisfied she doesn't have kids, especially since she'd have to wear a plastic poncho to cover her clothing.
  • The Chessmaster: Makes this comparison in her very first episode.
  • Child Hater: Blatantly states she's very happy with her life choices whenever Leslie and Ben's kids come up and she freaks out when she sees one of the triplets run past her.
    Jennifer: Whoa! What was that? That thing was huge!
  • Deadpan Snarker: Common topics she mocks include life in Pawnee and Leslie and Ben's children.
  • Foil: To Leslie. A hypercompetent and incredibly dedicated career woman who is nonetheless the sidekick to someone with absolutely no interest in doing their work. While Leslie has her sights set on one day becoming president and genuinely wants to help the world, Jennifer is content with pulling the strings from behind the scenes and is Only in It for the Money.
  • Friendly Enemy: Her loudness and willingness to admit she's just in it for the money aside, she's friendly to Leslie and Ben, and even admits Leslie will be a better Councillor than Bobby Newport.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Well, heart of bronze, maybe. She runs campaigns for people she admits are horrible, and is rather blunt and abrasive, but she never makes her rivalry with Leslie personal, and does genuinely think Ben and Leslie have what it takes to succeed.
  • Meaningful Name: Jennifer Barkley makes sense for someone who's as loud and intimidating as a Rottweiler.
  • Neat Freak: Puts plastic covering on herself and several things in the Knope-Wyatt household to keep the kids from spilling something on her.
  • Non-Idle Rich: She's got enough money to have a condo on every Virgin Island, but the reason she has that money is because she works incredibly hard at her job, and is the best at what she does.
  • Only in It for the Money: While it's debatable that she's doing good, this is her motivation.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: For the City Council arc. She's mostly on friendly terms with Leslie and Ben and the entire reason she took the Newport campaign was because they paid her a butt-load of money. After that, she offers Ben a job as a campaign manager at her firm, and subsequently a position as a congressman in the House of Representatives and then Governor of Indiana.
  • The Rival: To both Leslie and Ben at various times. She's generally friendly with both of them, but is easily one of their greatest obstacles in accomplishing their goals.
  • Sarcastic Devotee: Loyal and hardworking for the Newport campaign, no qualms about mocking him in private.
  • Spirited Competitor: She gives Leslie campaign advice a few times because, to use her chess metaphor, she doesn't have anyone to play against, so she has to play against herself.
  • Worthy Opponent: She steadily grows to respect both Leslie and Ben as political adversaries.

Justin Anderson (Justin Theroux)

Ann's lawyer friend introduced in season 2. He dates Leslie for a short time.

  • The Ace: He's well-traveled and cultured, always has an interesting story to tell, and is an intelligent lawyer.
  • Derailing Love Interests: His biggest problem for most of his time on the show was that he couldn't be around all the time. It isn't until the episode where he and Leslie break up that his being a "tourist" in other people's stories is established.
  • The One That Got Away: For Ann, in a way. She used to hope that maybe she could start something with him, much to Andy and later Mark's annoyance. She does get over it.
  • Temporary Love Interest: For Leslie in the second season, after she broke up with Dave. They later break up after Leslie realizes he's an "emotional tourist".